Kidney stones are a growing problem in the United States, new data suggest.

Researchers who analyzed data from 12,110 participants in the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that 8.8% of respondents reported a history of kidney stones, up from 5.2% reported by 1994 NHANES respondents, according to an online report in European Urology. According to the investigators, “the increase is likely related to dietary and lifestyle factors.”

The prevalence increased for men and women. The 2007-2010 data revealed that 10.6% of men and 7.1% of women reported having kidney stones, up from 6.3% and 4.1%, respectively, in 1994.

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Kidney stones were more common among obese individuals than among normal-weight subjects (11.3% vs. 6.1%). Compared with normal-weight individuals, obese respondents had a 55% increased risk of kidney stones.

“Presuming obesity as a marker for the metabolic syndrome, which is linked epidemiologically and physiologically to risk of kidney stones, the epidemic of obesity in the United States is a likely explanation for the dramatic rise in the prevalence of stone disease,” the researchers observed.

The investigators, led by Charles D. Scales Jr., MD, of the University of California-Los Angeles, also found that non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were 63% and 40% less likely than whites to report a history of kidney stones.

Additionally, respondents with a history of gout had a nearly twofold increased likelihood of kidney stones.

“Given the temporary disability imposed by a symptomatic stone event, these findings have important implications for a disease that burdens a primarily working-age population,” the authors concluded. “These findings suggest that the direct and indirect costs of kidney stones will continue to rise in the United States, and efforts should be directed toward ameliorating the burden of urinary stone disease.”