Researchers found that eating junk food or a high-fat diet could cause the same problems as type 2 diabetes.
They discovered that certain types of glucose transporters in the kidney were present, in high amounts, in rats with type 2 diabetes.
Rats who were fed a diet rich in junk food or a diet high in fat also presented with these transporters.
Researchers said the findings could help them develop new ways to protect the kidneys from further damage.
With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or doesn't react to it. This causes an accumulation of sugar in the blood, which can have severe long-term consequences for organs, including the kidneys.
Finding a way to block glucose reabsorption in the kidneys, however, could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels.
Researchers wanted to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affects glucose transporters in the kidney.
Rats were either fed a junk food-rich diet consisting of cheese, chocolate bars, biscuits and marshmallows for eight weeks, or a rodent chow high in fat for five weeks.
They then tested the effect of these diets on blood sugar levels and the different glucose transporters in the kidneys.
They found that certain types of glucose transporters (GLUT and SGLT), as well as their regulatory proteins, were present in a higher number in type 2 diabetic rats.
But a high fat diet and junk food diet caused a similar increase in those receptors.
Lead author Dr Havovi Chichger, senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at the Anglia Ruskin University, explained: "The Western diet contains more and more processed junk food and fat, and there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of this type of food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
"In our study, type 1 and type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney, but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in type 2 diabetes."
She continued: "A new treatment for diabetic patients constitutes blocking the glucose transporter in the kidney to reduce blood glucose levels.
"Understanding how diet can affect sugar handling in the kidneys and whether the inhibitors can reverse these changes could help to protect the kidneys from further damage."
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