World Kidney Day - 9 March 2017

Kidney Disease & Obesity

Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Kidneys

World Kidney Day is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys. This year World Kidney Day promotes education about the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, advocating healthy lifestyle and health policy measures that make preventive behaviours an affordable option.

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Feature Article: How Cochrane Kidney and Transplant has supported

research on healthy lifestyles for healthy kidneys

World Kidney Day is on 9 March 2017.

The theme for this year is “Kidney Disease and Obesity: Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Kidneys”.


A healthy lifestyle is important not only in reducing the risk of developing kidney disease, but also in improving the lives of people with the disease. People who have kidney disease have identified a healthy lifestyle that includes diet, exercise, self-care and psychological support as important to them and their families.

Researchers have looked at which medical treatments might increase wellbeing among the 1 in 10 people worldwide who have kidney disease. But research about lifestyle factors for kidney disease is uncommon. On their own, single research trials may not provide the definitive information needed to know whether a lifestyle choice can improve health in kidney disease. To overcome the lack of information about lifestyle choices in individual trials, Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence teams have combined trials together in order to provide reliable evidence for patients, families, health professionals, policy makers and the public. Cochrane evidence also drives new research to fill the critical gaps in our knowledge.

In this summary, nephrologist and Cochrane Kidney and Transplant editor Suetonia Palmer highlights the recent Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence reviews that have informed lifestyle care for people with kidney disease.

Scientific evidence shows regular exercise has important benefits for people with kidney disease:

Regular exercise is important for health in the general population. Susanne Heiwe and Stefan Jacobson combined 45 studies in nearly 2000 people with kidney disease and showed that exercise improved physical fitness and wellbeing. They concluded that patients and their doctors could work together to achieve patients’ goals to include regular exercise in their lifestyle.(Link to Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence)

Still not clear whether a healthy diet can improve the lives of people with kidney disease:

A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish, and low in sugar, sodium, and some fats prevents disease in the general population. Suetonia Palmer and her colleagues combined 10 studies in about 1000 people with kidney disease. A healthy diet lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, but it is not very certain whether a healthy diet can improve life expectancy and wellbeing in the longer term. (Link to Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence – full review to be published shortly)

Reducing salt intake may lower blood pressure and reduce kidney damage:

A high amount of salt in the diet is common around the world. Emma McMahon and her team combined information from 8 studies in 258 people with kidney disease. Lowering salt intake reduced blood pressure and the amount of protein leaked by the kidneys but it was unclear whether reducing salt intake prevented heart problems or early death in the longer term. (Link to Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence)

Reducing salt intake in the diet may be helpful for people with diabetes:

In a Cochrane review, information from trials was combined to learn whether salt reduction benefits people with diabetes. Rebecca Suckling and her review team showed that salt restriction led to a large fall in blood pressure but it was not possible to be very confident that this blood pressure impact protected kidney function. (Link to Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence)

Not clear whether diet changes protect against bone problems in people with kidney disease:

Kidney disease can cause fragile bones and pain and weakness. Xusheng Liu and team combined research studies to ask whether diet changes can help prevent bone problems in people with kidney disease. In 9 studies among 600 people, there was scant information to know for sure whether diet changes could improve bone health. (Link to Cochrane Kidney and Transplant evidence)


More information:

For more information about these reviews and the work of Cochrane Kidney Transplant, please visit the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant website. To learn how you can contribute to the work of Cochrane as a citizen scientist, you can visit the Cochrane website about how to get involved.

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