Body mass index trend in haemodialysis patients: the shift of nutritional disorders in two Italian regions

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In the USA, the increase in the prevalence of obesity in the general population has been accompanied by a marked increase in the prevalence and incidence of obesity in the dialysis population. However, secular trends of body mass index (BMI) have not been investigated in European renal registries.


We investigated the secular trend of BMI across 18 years (1994–2011) in two haemodialysis (HD) registries (Calabria in southern Italy and Emilia in northern Italy) on a total of 16 201 prevalent HD patients and in a series of 3559 incident HD patients. We compared trends in BMI for HD patients with those in the background general population of the same regions.


The average BMI rose from 23.5 kg/m2 in 1994 to 25.5 (+8.5%) in 2011 in the Calabria registry and from 23.7 in 1998 to 25.4 (+7.1%) in 2011 in the Emilia registry (P < 0.001). The proportion of obese patients (i.e. with BMI >30 kg/m2) rose from 6 to 14% in Calabria and from 6 to 16% in Emilia (P < 0.001). These patterns were fully confirmed in incident patients and were mirrored by a substantial decline in the prevalence of underweight–normal and underweight (P < 0.001) patients. Of note, the steepness of the increase in BMI in haemodialysis patients was 3.7 times more pronounced than that in the coeval, age- and sex-matched general population of Calabria and Emilia.


In two regional haemodialysis registries in Italy a steady increase in overweight and obese patients is observed. These patterns are more pronounced than those found in the general population. If further confirmed in other European haemodialysis cohorts, these findings may have relevant public health implications.

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