Can Obesity Cause Kidney Failure?

Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat in the body. In most cases, this is caused by a combination of excessive food intake and a lack of physical activity.

Basically, the human body is composed of lean weight (muscle, bone, tendons, ligaments, internal organs) and fat weight (fat tissues).

Generally, lean weight is referred to as the lean body mass and fat weight is referred to as body fat percentage.

Individuals with body fat percentages greater than 30% for females and 25% for males are generally overweight and are considered obese. Ideally, the body fat percentage for females should be 22% and for males 15%.

Excess fat places a lot of pressure on the body's main organs (kidneys included) and biological systems, leading to various diseases. The heart, the kidneys, the pancreas, and other organs are all placed under enormous strain.

Fat tissues are a necessary component of the physical anatomy. Having too much of it, however, can result in serious physical, psychological, and social problems. For instance, individuals who are significantly overweight increase their risk of developing many serious health conditions, such as heart failure, kidney failure, respiratory ailments, bone and joint disorders, and diabetes.

Additionally, they are faced with unfortunate social problems. For example, it can be quite embarrassing when excessively overweight individuals are required to pay extra for seats on ground and air transportation. Overweight individuals also usually have low self-esteem, caused by negative self-image and negative perception of how they are viewed by others.

What's the big deal with excess fat, anyway?

Apart from the health issues, having excess fat can slow you down and make you vulnerable to accidents.

It is very difficult for overweight persons to respond quickly in emergencies and can also pose a problem to rescuers. While some overweight individuals might be satisfied with the way they look and feel many others are not.

In many cases, excess weight leads to low self-esteem, depression, and other psychological problems.

Every extra pound of fat forces our heart to pump blood through an extra mile of blood vessels. If someone is overweight, they may not only increase their risk of developing some diseases but they may also aggravate (worsen) diseases, which are caused by other factors. Excessive body fat is linked to:

  • high blood pressure,
  • increases cholesterol,
  • diabetes,
  • lower back problems,
  • respiratory ailments,
  • heart failure,
  • bone and joint disorders, and
  • kidney failure

What are the causes of obesity?

Generally, individuals who are obese are:

  • eating too much,
  • eating the wrong kind of foods,
  • exercising too little.

These, however, are not the only causes. Other causes include hereditary factors, and emotional problems. Although other factors may play a part, studies show that inactivity is the most important reason why many people are overweight.

It actually appears that most overweight individuals do not eat much more than the non-obese and very few have hormonal, metabolic, or glandular problems, which cause them to be overweight.

Persons with excess fat simply do not have a level of activity that will burn up the calories they take in each day.

Obesity and Kidney Failure

When someone has excess fat, they place themselves at great risk of developing a number of serious medical conditions... including kidney failure. The following are some common problems that can be caused or compounded by excess fat.

  1. High blood pressure

    Individuals who are obese will, over time, most likely develop high blood pressure (hypertension). Fat is tissue, just like muscles or organs, and requires a constant blood supply. Each pound of fat contains approximately one mile of blood vessels. This means that each extra pound of fat places additional pressure on the heart, to pump extra blood through the body. This causes the heart to work much harder to pump blood around the body, which results in high blood pressure.

    Hypertension is an underlying cause of kidney failure. The force of the blood damages vital tissues and vessels within the kidneys causing them to fail, over time.

  2. Diabetes

    When someone is overweight, it usually means that they are eating too much of the wrong kinds of food (especially sweets). This places additional strain on the pancreas to produce insulin. Over time, the pancreas may not be able to cope with this heavy workload and may begin to malfunction. Consequently, it will not be able to produce the amount of insulin needed, resulting in diabetes. Individuals who are obese are, therefore, at greater risk of developing diabetes and kidney failure.

  3. Toxins

    Usually, overweight persons have a build-up of toxins caused by eating too much of the wrong foods, leading to poor digestion. Foods that are not properly digested remain in the colon and produces toxins. Through normal biological processes, these toxins get into the blood stream and contaminate the blood.

    One of the primary functions of the kidney is to remove toxins and other waste products from the blood. With obese persons, however, the level of toxins and waste products increases. The kidneys are not equipped to deal with the excessive amounts of toxins usually associated with obese individuals. This additional strain on the kidneys can result in kidney failure, over time.

  4. The link between obesity and kidney failure stems primarily from overworking the body's vital organs. Maintaining ideal body weight is very important for achieving optimum health. Weight control is also an important element of maintaining optimum kidney health. The keys to weight control and avoiding excess weight include eating a balanced diet, balance calorie intake, exercise regularly and, if necessary, cut back on the amount of food consumed.