The silent fat killer: obesity

By: Chris Smith


Kidney Health Australia says the fat epidemic, estimated to be costing Australia $58 billion dollars a year, has serious implications

Kidney Health Australia says the fat epidemic, estimated to be costing Australia $58 billion dollars a year, has serious implications for many Australians who could have chronic kidney disease.

Anne Wilson CEO of Kidney Health Australia says approximately two million Australians may be affected by early-stage kidney disease and don't even know it.

"Kidney disease often has no symptoms at all. It is common for people to lose up to 90 percent of their kidney function before developing any symptoms making it a "silent killer"," she says.

"Obesity considerably increased the risk of chronic kidney disease, which affects one in three Australians, is associated with forty deaths a day and is causing the national health budget to blow out at $1 million a week just to cover new dialysis costs."

In 2005 / 2006 one third of all admissions to public hospitals were due to dialysis, 2000 each day of the year.

In Australia public hospitals in 2005/6 visits related to Kidney Disease was 731,000 out of a total of 2.215, million admissions.

The cost of treating kidney disease in Australia is rising by $50 million a year and will jump from $700 million in 2006 to $900 million in 2010 - The Economic Impact of Kidney Disease in Australia; report was undertaken by the George Institute of International Health two years ago.

Lifestyle diseases associated with obesity such as diabetes and high blood pressure are both major risk factors for kidney disease and have been steadily on the rise over the last few decades.

Kidney Health Australia Medical Director Tim Mathew says there is no cure for kidney disease with dialysis and transplant the only options once a patients kidneys fail.

"However if kidney disease is detected early it is treatable and its progression can be delayed so patients may never have to revert to dialysis," he says.

Obesity increases the risk of kidney disease and our message to the community is to undertake a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.

Dr Mathew says people most at risk of kidney disease are those who:
    • have diabetes
    • are obese
    • have high blood pressure
    • smoke
    • are over 50 years
    • are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent

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