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Obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and other western countries, may be complicated by hypertension, an increased incidence of renal cancer or proteinuria. Patients with obesity-associated proteinuria show focal glomerulosclerosis and glomerulomegaly on biopsy, usually have minimal clinical edema and relatively normal levels of serum albumin, cholesterol and blood pressure, and can progress to end-stage renal disease. Severe obesity may also be an additive risk factor in patients with preexisting nephropathy or reduced renal mass. The pathophysiology of obesity-associated proteinuria is unclear but may include hyperfiltration, increased renal venous pressure, glomerular hypertrophy, hyperlipidemia and increased synthesis of vasoactive and fibrogenic substances, including angiotensin II, insulin, leptin and transforming growth factor-β1. These substances may individually or interactively affect glomerular hyperfiltration, mesangial cell hypertrophy and matrix production, and the production of collagen, fibronectin, transforming growth factor-β and other fibrogenic mediators of change. Although angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition has proven to have an impact, perhaps temporarily, on obesity-associated proteinuria in humans, weight reduction early in the course of the disease would appear the most important therapeutic approach.