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Belly Fat Raises Your Risk of Diabetic Kidney Disease


What to Know

An excess of belly fat ups your risk for numerous health problems, including heart disease, colon cancer, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. For people who already have diabetes, complications such as blindness and heart trouble are more likely with too much abdominal fat. Now, new research offers another very important reason to lose that belly: Abdominal obesity appears to significantly increase your chances of kidney disease, for which people with diabetes already are at a higher risk.

The Study

Chinese researchers conducted two studies to examine the link between belly fat and kidney disease. In one, they recruited 1,016 people with type 2 diabetes. They measured their obesity, in addition to their belly fat and overall body fat. Then they evaluated them for diabetic kidney disease, a chronic condition that worsens over time. The second study involved 279 people with type 2 diabetes. At the beginning, none had kidney disease. The researchers divided the participants into three groups based on how obese they were and tracked them for six years to see how many developed kidney problems.

The Results

In both studies, higher levels of belly fat were linked to a higher risk for diabetic kidney disease. In the first study, researchers found that those with the highest amount of abdominal obesity were about 1½ times more likely to develop kidney disease than those with the least belly fat. In the second study, about 15 percent of the participants developed kidney disease. Both studies showed that belly fat carried this high risk, even after accounting for other factors, such as body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height used to calculate body fat.


Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease. If you have an abundance of fat concentrated in your midsection, you have a higher risk for diabetic kidney disease, the study authors conclude. This is true even if you don’t carry much fat elsewhere in your body. You may be able to reduce your risk by losing weight.

Abdominal Obesity Is More Closely Associated With Diabetic Kidney Disease Than General Obesity.” Jinbo Hu, Shumin Yang, Aipin Zhang, Ping Yang, Xueting Cao, Xiyue Li, Richa Goswami, Yue Wang, Ting Luo, Kun Liao, Qingfeng Cheng, Xiaoqiu Xiao, and Qifu Li. Diabetes Care 2016 Oct; 39(10): e179–e180

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).