Overweight Americans who turn to extreme high-protein diets may increase their risk of kidney damage, a new Cleveland Clinic study has found.
The research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, is based on an analysis of food choices and lifestyle habits of 10,971 overweight adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey -- a federal assessment of the overall health of Americans.
Researchers found about half of the overweight and obese patients with kidney disease in the survey said they had attempted to lose weight in the past year. On average, those individuals consumed protein in amounts that are far above the recommended levels prescribed for chronic kidney disease patients.
The survey also found that eight percent of weight loss seekers used diet pills as part of their weight loss regimen, which are not recommended in people with kidney disease because they can lead to greater damage.
"People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for chronic kidney disease and there is a great need to define what the appropriate lifestyle changes and weight loss modalities are for protecting kidney function," said Dr. Sankar Navaneethan, a Cleveland Clinic kidney specialist and lead author of the study.
"Rather than using fad diets or diet pills, overweight and obese people with kidney disease may adopt a weight loss plan that incorporates a low-protein, low-calorie diet, regular physical activity and close follow-up by their physicians."
The survey asked patients about their diet and exercise habits, but programs – such as a specific high-protein diet -- were not named.