Metabolically Healthy Obesity and Development of Chronic Kidney Disease: A Cohort Study

Ann Intern Med. 2016 Mar 1;164(5):305-12. doi: 10.7326/M15-1323. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Background: The risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) among obese persons without obesity-related metabolic abnormalities, called metabolically healthy obesity, is largely unexplored.

Objective: To investigate the risk for incident CKD across categories of body mass index in a large cohort of metabolically healthy men and women.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Kangbuk Samsung Health Study, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.

Participants: 62 249 metabolically healthy, young and middle-aged men and women without CKD or proteinuria at baseline.

Measurements: Metabolic health was defined as a homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance less than 2.5 and absence of any component of the metabolic syndrome. Underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity were defined as a body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2, 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2, 23 to 24.9 kg/m2, and 25 kg/m2 or greater, respectively. The outcome was incident CKD, defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2.

Results: During 369 088 person-years of follow-up, 906 incident CKD cases were identified. The multivariable-adjusted differences in 5-year cumulative incidence of CKD in underweight, overweight, and obese participants compared with normal-weight participants were -4.0 (95% CI, -7.8 to -0.3), 3.5 (CI, 0.9 to 6.1), and 6.7 (CI, 3.0 to 10.4) cases per 1000 persons, respectively. These associations were consistently seen in all clinically relevant subgroups.

Limitation: Chronic kidney disease was identified by a single measurement at each visit.

Conclusion: Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased incidence of CKD in metabolically healthy young and middle-aged participants. These findings show that metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition and that the obese phenotype, regardless of metabolic abnormalities, can adversely affect renal function.

Primary funding source: None.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Obesity, Metabolically Benign / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors