Obesity has become an epidemic, with obesity rates around 40% among American adults. In addition to increasing the risk of developing certain health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, obesity also increases the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which the kidneys get damaged and become unable to filter out waste, which then builds up in the body.
In this blog, the kidney experts at Houston Kidney Specialists Center, with four locations throughout Houston and Cypress, Texas, discuss what the kidneys do and how obesity can contribute to chronic kidney disease.
How normal kidneys function
Inside your kidneys are tiny units called nephrons, and they filter your blood by removing the waste and returning the needed substances to your bloodstream.
Every day, your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood and produce 1-2 quarts of urine. Without your kidneys, your body would quickly become overwhelmed and poisoned from the buildup of waste produced during cellular metabolism and other processes.
Obesity and chronic kidney disease
Obesity, which is considered one of the biggest risk factors for developing chronic kidney disease, can contribute to its development in both direct and indirect ways.
Obesity’s direct effects on the kidneys
The higher a person’s body mass index (BMI) is, the higher their metabolic activity will be, and the higher their waste production will be. Unfortunately, when a person gains weight, their kidneys stay the same size. This means the kidneys have to work harder to keep up.
This can lead to hyperfiltration, which means the kidneys have to filter above their normal rate. Over time, hyperfiltration can lead to chronic kidney disease by overstressing the kidneys.
The excess body fat associated with obesity can also increase the production of certain substances, such as adiponectin and leptin, which can cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and reduced kidney function.
Obesity’s indirect effects on the kidneys
In addition to causing direct pressure on your kidneys, obesity can also indirectly increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. This is because obesity can increase your risk of developing other conditions, which, in turn, can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease.
For example, obesity can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. These conditions can lead to an excess of blood sugar, which can damage your blood vessels, cause reduced kidney function, and cause chronic kidney disease. Similarly, obesity can cause high blood pressure, which can damage the small and sensitive blood vessels in the kidneys.
While obesity has multiple ways of increasing your risk of developing chronic kidney disease, it is also one of the most preventable and reversible risk factors. Even a small reduction in your overall BMI can help protect your kidneys.
If you’re overweight or obese and worried about your kidney function, the specialists at Houston Kidney Specialists Center can discuss your options to prevent or manage chronic kidney disease. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.