A study to be published in the September issue of Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that weight gain, even an amount that does not propel a person into the overweight range, still increases the risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD)—a disease already prevalent enough to be considered a major public-health issue by some experts.

Research indicates that obesity raises the risk for CKD, but it was not known whether this risk exists if the person remains in the “normal” BMI range after a gain. Researchers followed a group of 8,792 healthy men in Korea who had no known risk factors for CKD. The men were examined several times for approximately five years.

According to data compiled by the researchers, the men who gained ³1.6 lb per year and those who lost <1.6 lb per year had a significantly higher risk of developing CKD than the other study participants, regardless of whether they were in the normal or overweight BMI category at baseline. The lowest CKD risk was observed among men who lost or gained <0.55 lb.

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“Weight gain was associated with the development of CKD, and this relationship was observed even in the normal-weight participants,” write the study authors. “Avoidance of weight gain, even among lean individuals, is important to reduce the risk for this serious disease.”

The researchers note that the association between weight loss and CKD risk should be interpreted cautiously, in part because the subjects who lost weight were more obese and more likely to have metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia at baseline.