Kidney diseases: Risks posed by obesity

This year’s World Kidney Day commemoration calls for raising public awareness on obesity, its ill-effects on the kidneys and other body organs and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to live a healthy life

World Kidney Day is celebrated every year on the second Thursday of March all around the world.

The main purpose of this celebration is to make people aware about the importance of kidneys in the human body and to diminish the patterns and extent of various kidney diseases by emphasizing early detection and prevention.

It has been estimated that nearly three million people in Nepal suffer from some kind of kidney diseases. Similarly, the incidence of kidney failure is three thousand a year and 90 per cent of those with the disease die within the few months of diagnosis, primarily due to financial inaccessibility to proper treatment.

This year’s World Kidney Day was observed yesterday (on the 9th of March). The theme this year for the disease is \\”Kidney Disease and Obesity\\” with the slogan \\”Walk for Kidneys\\”.

As obesity is one of the prime non communicable diseases which is increasing at an alarming rate all over the world, this year’s celebration will be directed towards increasing public awareness on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to safeguard oneself from the risks of kidney ailments.

Obesity means deposition of extra fats in the body which can manifest many kinds of diseases in the body. A study in 2014 showed that there were 600 million people living with obesity in the world.

Due to a mechanized world and sedentary lifestyle, obesity has become a problem all over the world.

It is the compelling reason for causing high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which are the main culprits for the high incidence of kidney failure.

In addition, the work of kidneys in obese people is intensified further which facilitates the risk of kidney diseases.

The risk of developing kidney diseases in the obese surpasses the risk in healthy people by two to seven times. It has been estimated that by 2025, obesity will affect 18 per cent and 21 per cent of males and females respectively; while 6 per cent of the men and 9 per cent the women will be living with morbid obesity.

The occurrence of obesity has become so dreadful that, in some developed countries, it has been found to be affecting one third of the country’s population which has not only increased the mortalities and morbidities but has further incapacitated the entire country’s economy.

Obesity not only increases the risk of untimely death but also invites different diseases like: heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnoea, fatty liver, cholelithiasis, cancers, mental diseases, decreased quality of life and many more.

But, the good news is that obesity and kidney diseases both can be prevented and restrained by following a healthy diet regimen and physical exercise.

Thus, this year’s World Kidney Day commemoration calls for raising public awareness on obesity, its ill-effects on the kidneys and other body organs and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to live a healthy life.

Control of obesity will further decrease morbidity and untimely mortality, which will further help in ensuring an increased quality of life and will supplement the country’s economy and health care services.

Taking into account the growing severity of kidney failure in Nepal and inability of people to pay for dialysis, the Government of Nepal has already made dialysis free of cost all over the nation, while it is in the final phase of making kidney transplantation altogether free.

These initiatives have provided a great relief to the impoverished patients and have given them a hope to live a new and quality lifestyle. Furthermore, it will help enhance the country’s economy by the increase of productive manpower after the successful transplantations.

Likewise, to strengthen transplantation services in the country, the Government of Nepal established the Human Organ Transplant Center at Bhaktapur in 2012.

Since then, this center has been providing kidney transplantation services at a cost the country and community can afford.

Besides transplantation and free dialysis services round the clock, this center has further extended its services to complex heart surgeries.

Recently, it also carried out the very first liver transplantation in the country. This center along with the charity organization, Aarogya Foundation, has been working in helping the poor patients by providing free dialysis and other health services at a minimal cost.

Both these organizations have been carrying out free health camps at various parts of the country to screen for any kind of organ failure.

Similarly, various programs and campaigns are being carried out now and then to make people aware of kidney diseases and organ failure; focusing mainly on the prevention aspect.

A little less calorie on your plate and a little more efforts to your feet can prevent you from contracting the dreadful effects of obesity. Prevention is always better than cure.

Shrestha is a kidney, liver and pancreas transplant expert, affiliated to Human Organ Transplant Center, Bhaktapur, and Aarogya Foundation, Pulchowk