Being Obese Increases The Risk of Kidney Disease

Posted On Dec 27, 2019

Department of Nephrology

Manipal Hospitals

The early diagnosis or detection of kidney disease is crucial to ensure that it doesn’t progress into kidney failure. Unfortunately the cases of kidney disease have gone up around the world because of the adverse effects of climate change due to globalisation.

The growing epidemic of obesity especially  in the western world, is a major cause in reducing life-expectancy, adding serious risk to health and the economic burden. Sedentary lifestyle combined with a lack of exercise and high calorie food choices is responsible for this obesity epidemic.

Obesity, especially abdominal obesity (excessive fat around the abdomen and stomach) can lead to the individual developing kidney disease and can have a very negative impact on his or her health. Abdominal obesity is defined as men having a waist circumference of 88cms/ 35 inches and women having a waist circumference of 102cms/ 40 inches.

Research has found that eleven percent of obese individuals have an elevated level of protein albumin in their urine (Albuminuria) which signals that the kidneys aren’t functioning properly and that the individual is at a high risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Hence it is safe to say that abdominal obesity which is usually associated with high blood pressure and diabetes is now also associated with kidney disease.

Patients suffering from Obesity and metabolic syndrome are 20-30% more likely to end up with kidney failure after the progression of kidney disease. Metabolic syndrome includes features like low HDL, high blood sugar, high level of triglycerides and a large waist size, which increases the risk of patient for diabetes and heart disease as well.

How it can be identified?

The early stages of kidney disease may not display any symptoms but the first signals like fatigue, frequent headaches or feeling itchy all over may indicate kidney failure.

The worsening of kidney failure can be identified by symptoms like, increased/decreases urge to urinate, numb/swollen hands and feet, vomiting, trouble concentrating, loss of appetite, drowsiness, nausea, muscle cramps etc.

It is best to visit a doctor and get a urine or blood test done if these symptoms are experienced.

How to reduce the risks?

Obese individuals need to consult their doctors before starting a healthy weight loss program and exercise plan to lower their weight and hence reduce the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes which in turns lowers the risk of developing kidney disease.

An obese individual should never go on crash diets that usually have a high amount of protein with little or no carbs as it can harm the kidneys by adding strain and as the body end up burning fat instead of glucose from carbs, the body may go into the state of ketosis which can severely damage the kidneys.

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