What is the relationship between kidney function and abdominal fat?

Home - What is the relationship between kidney function and abdominal fat?

It is widely understood that hypertension and diabetes are two of the most common causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD), a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively. But what about abdominal fat?

Abdominal fat contributes to risk of diabetes and hypertension, and with these being the most common causes of CKD, it’s natural to associate abdominal fat with CKD, isn’t it? A new study has recently been published which examines this.

The study(1) aimed to examine the relationship between kidney function and abdominal fat; the researchers wanted to discover if abdominal obesity is associated with early markers of CKD in a young healthy population, and whether these associations differ by race and/or ethnicity.

As symptoms of CKD are not usually present until the condition reaches an advanced stage, blood and urine tests are relied on to detect the condition at earlier stages, and enable treatment to begin as early as possible. The identification of more indicators to enable this condition to be detected as early as possible is of interest, particularly due to 10% of the world’s population being affected by CKD(2).

The study involved the analysis of data gained from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US between 1999 and 2010. This included health, lifestyle and nutritional information from 6918 young adults aged 20-40 years; factors included height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and blood/urine samples for analysis of components including albumin, CRP, glucose, insulin, creatinine etc.

The researchers of the study defined abdominal obesity by gender criteria of waist circumference, and markers of CKD included estimated glomerular filtration rate and albuminuria ≥30 mg/g. Risk of CKD was analysed within strata of race and in subgroups of those with normal blood pressures, normal blood sugar levels and normal insulin sensitivity. Awareness of CKD was assessed in participants with albuminuria.

The study concluded that abdominal obesity in young adults, especially in Mexican-Americans, is independently associated with early markers of kidney dysfunction even in those with normal blood pressures, glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.


  1. Sarathy H et al. (2016) Abdominal Obesity, Race and Chronic Kidney Disease in Young Adults: Results from NHANES 1999-2010. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0153588. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153588
  2. World Kidney Day (2016) Chronic Kidney Disease. Online at: http://www.worldkidneyday.org/faqs/chronic-kidney-disease/

Please note:

With the prevalence of obesity, greater awareness of CKD is needed to protect the youth from premature kidney dysfunction. Those at high risk of CKD should be screened every year. This includes patients with high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, or a family history of CKD. If symptoms are experienced visit your GP – symptoms of advanced CKD include tiredness; swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention); shortness of breath; nausea; and blood in the urine.

For health professionals: The adiponectin test from Randox can accurately assess levels of abdominal visceral fat, independent of age, race or fitness level.  Assessing adiponectin, and therefore visceral fat levels, can help assess risk of CKD, as well as a range of other illnesses such as pre-diabetes, CVD and various cancers.  Contact us now for further information.