The nation is out of shape, with two-thirds of adults either overweight or obese. And as waists have expanded over the years, we are gradually learning the full – and sometimes shocking – impact on the health of the body.
The latest link to come to light is that obesity can lead to an increased risk of kidney disease.
And at Manchester University, Professor Maciej Tomaszewski believes weight loss could prevent or even reverse kidney issues.
His team analysed data from around 300,000 participants in the UK, using one of the largest collections of human kidney samples.
They extracted information on the two most common measurements of obesity: body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). These were correlated with various measurements of kidney function.
Researchers found as the values of BMI and WC increased with worsening obesity, so measurements of kidney function suffered.
By analysing 467 kidney tissue samples, the scientists also uncovered the “signatures” of obesity on the human kidney – groups of genes that could be the root cause of the effects of obesity on the organ.
“Chronic kidney disease affects more than 10% of adults worldwide and is predicted to become a global threat to public health,” said Professor Tomaszewski. “We were able to demonstrate a potentially causal effect excessive weight has on kidney health and risk of chronic kidney disease, and several other kidney disorders.
The main job of the kidneys is to cleanse the blood of toxins and transform the waste into urine. When they are not working properly, harmful toxins and excess fluids build up in the body. So kidneys are vital to overall health.
Dr Xiaoguang Xu, from Manchester University, said: “Our evidence substantiates the value of weight loss as a strategy of preventing or reversing a decline in kidney health, as well as decreasing the risk of renal disease. We hope our findings will help to stimulate further research and drive the development of public health policies to improve kidney health through encouraging weight loss.”
Dr Aisling McMahon, from Kidney Research UK, said: “Three million people in the UK are already living with kidney disease. With levels of obesity on the increase, this figure could be set to rise rapidly.
“The Manchester team’s findings demonstrate the need to promote healthy lifestyles in order to improve kidney health.
“Once someone becomes a kidney patient, they are a kidney patient for life because there is no cure.”