Obesity and lack of exercise behind surge in kidney stone complaints

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV News Meridian

A leading surgeon has warned a “malicious combination" of obesity, poor hydration, high blood pressure and a lack of exercise is behind a surge in cases of kidney stones.

Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said admissions for renal stone treatment in England had risen by 20% over the past seven years to more than 90,000, with prevalence up to 50% higher in obese patients.

He said poor diets and lifestyles were “fuelling” the development of the condition, with consumption of too much animal protein and levels of salt and sugar creating the “perfect environment" for stones to form.

“We know diet and lifestyle can be a major cause of stones and, with a year-on-year rise in the number of hospital admissions for renal stones and growing numbers of overweight or obese adults, the potential for the number of cases to soar even higher is huge.

In Southampton specifically, our numbers have gone up by 40% over the past three years and have resulted in the need for us to recruit a specialist stone nurse and registrar to see patients, as well as set-up virtual clinics by phone – so urology and stone services face a very testing future.

The condition, which affects around 10% to 20% of the male population and 3% to 5% of women between the ages of 20 and 60 years, develops when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps."

– Bhaskar Somani, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Southampton General Hospital