Apple-Shaped Bodies Linked To Higher Risk Of Kidney Disease
April 12, 2013

Apple-Shaped Bodies Linked To Higher Risk Of Kidney Disease

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

If you have an apple-shaped body, then you may be more apt to develop a kidney disease, according to research written in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Researchers found people who have these types of bodies tend to have lower kidney function, lower kidney blood flow and higher blood pressure within the kidneys than those with pear-shaped bodies. The study suggests people with apple-shaped bodies may benefit from treatments that reduce kidney blood pressure.

When someone has an apple-shaped body, the fat is generally concentrated in the abdominal area. The team took these body types and looked for links between waist-to-hip ratios, which reflects central body fat distribution. They also looked for kidney measures in 315 individuals who had an average body mass index at the higher end of what is considered normal weight.

"We found that apple-shaped persons–even if totally healthy and with a normal blood pressure–have an elevated blood pressure in their kidneys. When they are also overweight or obese, this is even worse," said Arjan Kwakernaak, MD, and PhD candidate at the University Medical Center Groningen, in the Netherlands.

Past research found high blood pressure in the kidneys can be treated through salt restriction or with drugs that block the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Kwakernaak says their study shows these interventions could be useful in people who have these apple-shaped bodies.

According to the study, more than one-third of chronic kidney disease cases at age 60 to 64 years in the US could be avoided if nobody became overweight until at least that age. The team said being overweight can significantly increase individuals' risks of developing kidney disease by the time they become seniors.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found in 2011 that one protein may be the culprit behind why some people have apple-shaped bodies and others pear-shaped. They found that levels of the protein 11BetaHSD1 tends to be higher in apple-shaped bodies. This protein has been linked to an unhealthy type of body fat that is stored around the torso. Scientists are performing research on developing medicines that inhibit this protein, which could open up the door to better tools for targeting that fat.