Australia’s obesity epidemic is not just hurting waistlines but also taking a toll on people’s kidneys.
A report from Kidney Health Australia has found being overweight or obese can up to double someone’s chances of developing chronic kidney disease.
Almost two in three Australians are classified as being overweight or obese.
The report, titled Obesity and Chronic Kidney Disease: The Hidden Impact, discovered in areas where obesity rates exceeded the national average people were more likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease.
“Being obese is a potent risk factor,” Kidney Health Australia CEO Mikaela Stafrace said.
“In obese people, the kidneys have to work harder, filtering more blood than normal. This increase in function can damage to the kidneys – effectively shutting them down.”
More than half a million Australians have signs of chronic kidney disease that may be due to obesity, the report said.
Overweight people are 1.5 times more at risk of developing the disease than the average person, with obese individuals twice as likely.
South eastern NSW and the Darling Downs and West Moreton regions in Queensland had the highest rates of the disease, based on 2014-15 data for primary health network areas.
Symptoms include general tiredness, swelling in hands or feet and discoloured urine but early detection, medication and lifestyle changes can slow the disease’s progression and in some case even reverse its effects.
“If you’re at increased risk of developing kidney disease due to your weight, ask your GP for a simple kidney health check,” Ms Stafrace said.
There are more than 23,000 Australians dependent on dialysis or living with a kidney transplant.
The report is released to coincide with the start of Kidney Health Week on Monday.