Are you obese? You might have chronic kidney disease.


Keep obesity at bay, to keep your kidney healthy. Obesity, according to city doctors, is one of the biggest drivers of chronic kidney disease, a condition where the kidney functions deteriorate progressively.

Doctors estimate that around 15% people in our country live with chronic kidney disease.

“In India, 15% of the population is either obese -- with BMI more than 27-- or they have central obesity, meaning fat around their belly, which leads to metabolic syndromes. This, in turn, leads to kidney disease. It is a cycle of epidemic, one drives the other,” said Dr Sandeep Mahajan, professor of nephrology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

In fact, obesity increases the risk of chronic kidney disease by 83%, according to Dr Suman Nayak, additional professor of nephrology at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).

“Obesity is one of the risk factors of diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney disease. Apart from that, obese people have high metabiolic demands that leads to increased filtration and causing kidney disease,” said Dr Nayak.

“Also, we see more and more children are obese, who develop diabetes and hypertension early on in life. This means they are also at a risk of developing CKD earlier in life,” she said.

The silent killer

Doctors call chronic kidney disease a ‘silent killer’ because patients usually show no symptoms. It is only detected if they get tested.

People in high-risk groups should regularly test their kidney functions.

“People who are obese, have diabetes and hypertension, have family history of kidney disease, have had kidney stone or recurring urinary tract infection or above 50 years of age should get tested for kidney disease,” said Dr Sandeep Gulati, director of nephrology at Fortis Institute of Renal Sciences and Transplant (FIRST).

Another thing that doctors caution against is depending on kidney function test for checking kidney functions. “People usually come to us and say that their KFT is normal. But it is not accurate at all. The creatinine levels will go up only after 50% of the kidney function is lost,” said Dr Gulati. An eGFR test instead can tell even when 5% of the kidney function is lost.

What can be done?

Making lifestyle changes in the early stages of the disease can help in slowing the progression or in a small percentage of people reversing the damage.

“Have a healthy diet – include less sugar and more whole grains, fruits and nuts. Exercise – 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling or swimming can help. Quit smoking and maintain good control of diabetes and blood pressure,” said Dr Mahajan.

However, for 1 – 1.5% of the people, who have end-stage kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplantation are the only options.

Every year 2 lakh people get listed for a kidney transplant but only 7,500 get an organ. The rest have to survive on dialysis, a process that removes waste from the body by replicating kidney function.

However, the cost is a limiting factor for dialysis.

Patients in the last stage of the kidney disease need maintenance dialysis, two to three dialysis sessions in a week. With a single session costing around R 2,000, it is out of reach for most people.


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