Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Obesity Paradox


Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and worse survival in the general population. However, in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), higher body mass index and indexes of body fat and muscle are associated with better survival. Furthermore, these associations, which some have described as the obesity paradox, are more consistent in African American patients being treated with hemodialysis when compared with other racial-ethnic groups. This is in view of data indicating that although the rate of progression to ESRD is faster in African American patients, they have a survival advantage after transition to ESRD when compared with their white counterparts. These observations indicate that there may be significant interaction between race/ethnicity and association of body mass index with outcomes in patients with ESRD. In addition, it is possible that mechanisms underlying improved survival in African American hemodialysis patients are partly related to the association of body mass index with outcomes observed in this patient population. Some of these potential mechanisms may include comparatively reduced risk for protein-energy wasting and malnutrition, possible salutary effects of factors that play a role in energy preservation, resistance to deleterious effects of inflammation, and enhanced muscle mass and body composition. Given that ESRD is associated with significantly increased risk for morbidity and mortality, understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms responsible for the obesity paradox across race-ethnic populations might help identify potential therapeutic targets that can be used to improve survival in this patient population.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View