Overweight and obese teens are far more prone to developing life-threatening kidney disease later in life, according to new research.
The study, reported by Israeli researchers in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found children and adolescents with a high body mass index (BMI) often become obese adults who are more likely to develop diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) over a 25-year period.
"In this long-term nationwide population-based study, overweight and obesity at age 17 years were strongly and positively associated with the incidence of future treated ESRD, although the absolute risk for ESRD remains low," said the research team led by Dr. Asaf Vivante, of the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps.
For the study, researchers tracked the medical charts of nearly 1.2 million adolescents who were examined for fitness for Israeli military service between 1967 and 1997. The results showed 874 of them (713 men, 161 women) developed ESRD, and that adolescents who were overweight and obese were far more likely to develop the condition. In fact, compared with normal-weight adolescents, overweight teens were six times more likely to develop diabetic ESRD and obese teens were 19 times more likely to have the condition in adulthood.
"Although the results for diabetic ESRD were remarkable, with risks increasing six-fold and 19-fold among overweight and obese adolescents, respectively, our results also indicate a substantial association between elevated BMI and nondiabetic ESRD," the authors note.
In an invited commentary accompanying the study, Dr. Kirsten L. Johansen of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center said the research offered both “good news and bad news” from a public health standpoint.
“The good news is that obesity represents a potentially modifiable risk factor, and control of weight and the hypertension and inactivity that often accompany excess adiposity could prevent or slow the development of some cases of ESRD and may potentially reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with [chronic kidney disease],” Johansen said. “The bad news is that it is not easy to address obesity."