On World Kidney Day move your feet to stay healthy

World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys and kidney diseases among the general population. World Kidney Day is observed every year on second Thursday of March. This year it is being celebrated on 9th of March,2017. It is observed to create awareness about preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors, and awareness about how to live with a kidney disease.

We do this because we want kidney health for all. All across the globe, many hundred events take place from public screenings measures, marathons, walkathons and various social events.

World Kidney Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. With 10% of the population worldwide having some form of kidney damage, there is a long road ahead to raise awareness about the dangers of kidney disease. The latest numbers show that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is predicted to increase by 17% over the next decade and is now recognized by WHO and other organizations as a global public health issue.

Objectives on World Kidney Day

  • Raise awareness about our “amazing kidneys” Highlight that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
  • Encourage systematic screening of all patients with diabetes and hypertension for CKD.
  • Educate all medical professionals about their key role in detecting and reducing the risk of CKD, particularly in high-risk populations.
  • Stress the important role of local and national health authorities in controlling the CKD epidemic.
  • Encourage Transplantation as a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation as a life-saving initiative.

What has been the history of World Kidney Day?

World Kidney Day started way back in 2006 and has not stopped growing ever since. Every year, the campaign highlights a particular theme. The themes so far in previous years have been-

  • 2016 Kidney Disease & Children – Act Early to Prevent It!
  • 2015 Kidney Health for All
  • 2014 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and aging
  • 2013 Kidneys for Life – Stop Kidney Attack!
  • 2012 Donate – Kidneys for Life – Receive
  • 2011 Protect your kidneys: Save your heart
  • 2010 Protect your kidneys: Control diabetes
  • 2009 Protect your kidneys: Keep your pressure down
  • 2008 Your amazing kidneys!
  • 2007 CKD: Common, harmful and treatable
  • 2006 Are your kidneys OK?

Kidney Disease & Obesity Is the theme of  WKD 2017. This advocates a healthy lifestyle for healthy kidneys. Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. In 2014, worldwide over 600 million adults were obese.

Obesity is a potent risk factor for the development of kidney disease.  It increases the risk of developing major risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), like diabetes and hypertension, and it has a direct impact on the development of CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD): in individuals affected by obesity, the kidneys have to work harder, filtering more blood than normal (hyperfiltration) to meet the metabolic demands of the increased body weight. The increase in function can damage the kidney and raise the risk of developing CKD in the long-term.

How common is this problem in general population?

By 2025, obesity will affect 18% of men and over 21% of women worldwide, and that severe obesity will affect 6% of all men and 9% of all women around the world. In some nations, obesity is already present in more than one-third of the adult population and contributes significantly to overall poor health and high annual medical costs.

In the general population, obesity increases the risk of death and contributes to many other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, various cancers, mental disorders, and poor quality of life.

A growing body of evidence indicates that obesity is also a potent risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People who are overweight or obese have 2 to 7 more chances of developing ESRD compared to those of normal weight.

Obesity may lead to CKD both indirectly by increasing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, and also by causing direct kidney damage by increasing the workload of the kidneys and other mechanisms.

Reducing obesity may reverse or slow CKD progression.

The good news is that obesity, as well as CKD, is largely preventable. Education and awareness of the risks of obesity and a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and exercise, can dramatically help in preventing obesity and kidney disease. This year World Kidney Day promotes education about the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, advocating a healthy lifestyle and health policy measures that make preventive behaviors an affordable option.

On World Kidney Day, “move your feet” is an initiative to encourage people to start a healthy lifestyle by regular walking and various other exercises. Keeping fit reduces high blood pressure and obesity, two of the leading causes of kidney disease.

This is why, on this World  Kidney Day and beyond, we encourage civil society, decision-makers, health ministries and professionals as well as patients to do regular exercise, stay fit, maintain healthy body weight for healthy kidneys. Some messages like move your feet and move for your kidneys is a simple yet powerful action that creates a link between our health and our daily routine. This gesture is a vivid reminder that regular exercise and physical activity help to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.

By Dr Sukant K Das, MD, DM
Nephrologist, AMRI Hospitals, Bhubaneswar