Is obesity a major cause of chronic kidney disease?

Adv Ren Replace Ther. 2004 Jan;11(1):41-54. doi: 10.1053/j.arrt.2003.10.007.


Excess weight gain is a major risk factor for essential hypertension and for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Obesity raises blood pressure by increasing renal tubular sodium reabsorption, impairing pressure natriuresis, and causing volume expansion because of activation of the sympathetic nervous system and renin-angiotensin system and by physical compression of the kidneys, especially when visceral obesity is present. Obesity also causes renal vasodilation and glomerular hyperfiltration that initially serve as compensatory mechanisms to maintain sodium balance in the face of increased tubular reabsorption. In the long-term, however, these changes, along with the increased systemic arterial pressure, create a hemodynamic burden on the kidneys that causes glomerular injury. With prolonged obesity, there is increasing urinary protein excretion and gradual loss of nephron function that worsens with time and exacerbates hypertension. With the worsening of metabolic disturbances and the development of type II diabetes in some obese patients, kidney disease progresses much more rapidly. Weight reduction is an essential first step in the management of obesity, hypertension, and kidney disease. Special considerations for the obese patient, in addition to adequately controlling the blood pressure, include correction of the metabolic abnormalities and protection of the kidneys from further injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Renin-Angiotensin System
  • Risk Factors
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology