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Health Brief: Obesity may increase risk of urinary tract infection :

March 29, 2016
  • Grier WR, et al. Clin Pediatr. Jan. 24, 2016,

Obese females were at a 45% greater risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI) than those who were not obese, according to an analysis of national data on pediatric inpatient admissions.

“As obesity has been shown to downregulate the effectiveness of the host’s immune system, it promotes an environment conducive to increased risk for infection, leading to acute disease and tissue destruction,” researchers said.

Roughly 16% to 18% of children and adolescents are obese, and 21% to 25% are overweight, according to the study. Researchers studied 83,638 patients admitted to 4,100 community hospitals in 2009. Half were obese. They found 1,425 UTIs in obese children and 1,020 in non-obese children, a 41% increased risk for those who were obese.

Broken down by gender, obese females were 45% more likely to have a UTI compared to non-obese females. Obese males were at a 10% greater risk of UTIs, but that risk was not statistically significant.

Increased UTIs in obese patients likely are caused by adipose tissue that causes inflammation that in turn weakens the immune system. In addition, increased glucose in the urine can aid bacteria growth, according to the study.

“Since we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, our index of suspicion should be high for conditions, such as UTIs, that may complicate the obese children and adolescents,” researchers said.

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