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New Study Reveals Connection Between Teen Obesity and Kidney Disease

An obese teenage child sitting on a couch and eating a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich (BLT) while playing video games.
Teen obesity linked to higher risk of early chronic kidney disease, emphasizes the urgency of addressing this health concern.

A joint cohort study between researchers at Sheba Medical Center and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem titled “Adolescent Body Mass Index and Early Chronic Kidney Disease in Young Adulthood,” was recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal.

The study revealed that teenagers suffering from obesity have a significantly increased chance of developing early chronic kidney disease (CKD) in young adulthood. It further stressed the importance of lowering the body mass index (BMI) in obese teens, especially when it comes to more severely overweight cases. 

Along with the severely obese, the research revealed that even healthy young people with a high normal BMI under 30 also have reason for concern. These findings are especially groundbreaking, as until now, data presenting a link between the onset of early chronic kidney disease was lacking.

The research team led by Dr. Avishai Tsur, a resident at Sheba Medical Center and a member of the military medicine department at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, stated that “these findings are a harbinger of the potentially preventable, increasing likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease and subsequent cardiovascular disease.”

Obesity’s Link to Early Kidney Problems in Teens

Eric was especially grateful for Rima, their medical coordinator, who is a part of our Global Patient Services team.

The research, carried out in collaboration with leading healthcare institutions in Israel and the United States, including Johns Hopkins and Harvard University, analyzed information pertaining to 593,660 Israeli teenagers aged 16 to 20. These individuals were born after January 1, 1975, underwent medical evaluations for compulsory military service by December 31, 2019, and were insured by Maccabi Healthcare Services.

With an average follow-up period of 13.4 years, early chronic kidney disease (CKD) developed in 1,963 adolescents, which represents 0.3% of the overall cohort. In males, the risk of CKD was most significantly associated with severe obesity (hazard ratio [HR] of 9.4). However, it was also elevated in cases of mild obesity (HR of 6.7), overweight (HR of 4.0), and a high normal BMI during adolescence (HR of 1.8).

Obese teenage child pouting next to a woman doctor in a doctor's office.

For females, the highest increased risk was observed in cases of severe obesity (HR of 4.3), but it was also notable in individuals with mild obesity (HR of 2.7), those who were overweight (HR of 2.3), or had a high normal BMI (HR of 1.4).

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