The nutritional and lifestyle habits of overweight adults, including diets and diet pills, may be causing kidney damage, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

One in five overweight Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is often found in patients who have diabetes or hypertension.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic analyzed food choices and lifestyle habits of more than 10,900 overweight adults taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Survey results showed 50 percent of obese or overweight patients with kidney disease reported trying to lose weight in the past year. The study also found, on average, obese Americans with kidney disease consume protein in amounts that are above the recommended levels prescribed by the National Kidney Foundation for chronic kidney disease patients.

The usual American diet has nearly 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Those with chronic kidney disease are suggested to eat 0.6 to 0.75 protein per kilogram of their body weight daily; 1.9 grams per kilogram of body weight is needed for those who choose high protein diets.

“People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for chronic kidney disease and there is a great need to define what the appropriate lifestyle changes and weight loss modalities are for protecting kidney function,” said Sankar Navaneethan, a nephrologist and lead author of the study.

“Rather than using fad diets or diet pills, overweight and obese people with kidney disease may adopt a weight loss plan that incorporates a low-protein, low-calorie diet, regular physical activity and close follow-up by their physicians”, he said.

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