Childhood Obesity Statistics: Damage to This in Overweight Kids

I’ve covered many dangers associated with the rising childhood obesity statistics in this country, but damage to this vital organ caught me a little by surprise.

Ok.  You know that your child is overweight.  Or, maybe you don’t because statistically, parents have a tendency to downplay their child’s body weight issues.

Either way, you know it’s not a good thing, but they’ll outgrow it.  And then everything will be fine once he or she gets older.  Maybe not.  Maybe not in a BIG way.

This particular article took an interesting long term look at what happened to 17 year old children who were overweight (85th to 95th percentiles of BMI) or obese (≥95th percentile of BMI) getting his or her physical for the Israeli military.  This was an interesting chance to observe these kids because the physical examination to determine fitness level for entry into the military in mandatory.  Among other things, urinalysis and body weight was determined.

With the urinalysis being done, it was easy to determine if these children had any pre-existing kidney problems and were ruled out for this study.  In other words, the kidney function of these kids was in good shape with no indication of problems.

Fast forward 25 years and that is not at all the case.

Before we get into the results, let’s review what end stage renal disease (ESRD) really means.  This has typically been the realm of diabetics and chronic high blood pressure because these two cause so much damage to the kidneys (although not as much damage as it causes to the heart).  Long term use of NSAIDs and Tylenol can also destroy the kidneys.  End stage renal disease is dialysis and kidney transplant stuff.  It is not good and something we want to avoid at ALL costs.

Back to the study…

Researchers looked at two things: how much being overweight or obese at 17 years old led to the development of kidney failure up to 25 years later.  Remember–these kids had no evidence of kidney problems at 17.  Here’s what they found:

  1. Overweight adolescents  had a 300% increased risk for ESRD from all causes.
  2. Obese adolescents  increased risk was 689% for all-cause treated ESRD.
  3. Overweight kids had a 596% increased risk of being treated for kidney failure associated with diabetes.
  4. Obese kids had a whopping 1,937% increased risk for diabetic associated kidney failure.

These are shocking statistics and suggest that these kids, at age 17, are on a trajectory to a very, very poor health outcome with devastating consequences.

I do have to point out that the absolute number of these kids who are developing end stage renal disease was small, but the risk is so high that I felt the need to point this out.

If your child is overweight or headed that way, you need to recognize this threat to their long term health and begin to address it TODAY.  Later may be too late.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.