Socioeconomic status and reduced kidney function in the Whitehall II Study: role of obesity and metabolic syndrome

Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 Sep;58(3):389-97. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.04.017. Epub 2011 Jun 29.


Background: Previous US-based studies have found that chronic kidney disease (CKD) disproportionately affects those of more adverse social circumstances. Our aim was to show the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and decreased kidney function in a European context and explore the role of obesity and metabolic syndrome. We consider the potential confounding effect of lean muscle mass.

Study design: Cross-sectional.

Setting & participants: White participants in the follow-up of the Whitehall II cohort: UK-based European population (age, 55-79 years; n = 5,533), of whom 4,066 men (73%) and 1,467 women (27%) with complete data were analyzed.

Predictors: Self-reported occupational grade/salary range.

Outcomes: Estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) using the CKD-EPI (CKD Epidemiology Collaboration) equation.

Measurements: Body mass index (BMI), serum lipid levels, blood pressure, Tanita TBF-300 body composition analyzer, impedance-derived lean mass index (LMI).

Results: Participants in a lower compared with higher occupational grade were at increased odds of having decreased GFR (age- and sex-adjusted OR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.12-1.53; P = 0.001). Socioeconomic disparity in LMI was evident in women, but not men. After further adjustment for BMI and components of metabolic syndrome, the odds of decreased GFR in whites with a lower compared with higher occupational grade was attenuated by 23.3% (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.06-1.45; P = 0.008). Adjustment for LMI explained 15% of the association between SES and estimated GFR.

Limitations: Cross-sectional design, missing data for subset of participants, no urinary data.

Conclusions: BMI and components of metabolic syndrome may explain up to a quarter of the association between low SES and decreased GFR, suggesting potential modifiable factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Social Class*