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Obesity and kidney disease: Hidden consequences of the epidemic


Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic, and its prevalence has been projected to grow by 40% in the next decade. This increasing prevalence has implications for the risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and also for Chronic Kidney Disease. A high body mass index is one of the strongest risk factors for new-onset Chronic Kidney Disease. In individuals affected by obesity, a series of complex pathophysiologic changes occur that lead to the development of Chronic Kidney Disease. These include on the one hand effects mediated by the downstream consequences of obesity (such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension), but also direct effects of adipose tissue, via humoral factors such as leptin, adiponectin, resistin and visfatin). In obese individuals a compensatory hyperfiltration occurs to meet the heightened metabolic demands of the increased body weight, leading to glomerulomegaly and accompanied by deposition of adipose tissue in the glomerulus and the gradual development of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The incidence of obesity-related glomerulopathy has increased ten-fold in recent years. In addition to the development of Chronic Kidney Disease, obesity has also been shown to be a risk factor for nephrolithiasis, and for a number of malignancies including kidney cancer. Interventions to stem the tide of obesity are thus extremely important for preventing the development and progression of Chronic Kidney Disease and other disorders of the kidneys. This year the World Kidney Day promotes education on the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, advocating healthy lifestyle and health policy measures that makes preventive behaviors an affordable option.

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