Obesity as a kidney disease risk factor is the topic of the 12th World Kidney Day. This lifestyle disease is rightfully considered to be the third millennium epidemy. There are around 600 million obese people worldwide. In the Czech Republic, nearly 55% of people are obese or overweight. Alongside heart and vascular diseases, obesity is a potent risk factor for the development of kidney disease. Klára Spilková, the most successful Czech golfer, has become the ambassador of this year’s World Kidney Day by B. Braun Avitum. “To be in good physical shape is not only the basis of my profession, but of physical health in general. Everyone, not only sportsmen, should stay in good shape. Obesity does not happen overnight. If we watch what we eat and are physically active from time to time, we can easily prevent it. I will also have my kidneys checked and do recommend that everyone spare a few minutes on their health and go and get checked too,” Klára says.


The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best-known obesity indicator. One in four Czechs have a BMI value of 25 to 30 and are overweight. The same number of Czechs have BMI values higher than 30, which doctors qualify as obesity. BMI values over 40 signify severe obesity with an extremely high risk of life-threatening diseases. There are 2% of Czechs with the highest degree of obesity, in which group obesity directly damages the kidneys. Commonly, an excess amount of fat damages the kidneys indirectly by causing diabetes and high blood pressure. “People with a BMI over 40 almost always suffer from nephropathy. Overweight and obese people are likely to be on their way to kidney damage,” says Dr. Štěpán Svačina, DrSc., MBA, a renowned Czech obesity specialist and Head of the 3rd Internal Clinic of Endocrinology and Metabolism of the 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague and Military University Hospital Prague. Diabetes and hypertension damage balls of small blood vessels in renal glands (glomerulosa cells), which can then no longer perform their original cleansing function and release complex substances, such as proteins, in urine.


Regular physical activity helps increase our organism’s resistance and has many more positive effects. The role of the kidneys in physical activity is extremely important. Despite this, there are sportsmen, even at the top level, who have undergone kidney nephrectomy (removal) or even kidney transplant. Zbyněk Irgl, the captain of the Třinec Extra Hockey League team, who returned to playing hockey five months after a kidney removal and is still one of the best hockey players in the country, is a great example. Even patients with chronic renal deficiency (kidney failure) who have great dietary restrictions and undergo dialysis treatment up to three times a week, can actively pursue sports activities. However, it is necessary to discuss the sport with their nephrologist or physical therapist and monitor its impact on their body. Great blood pressure increase during physical activity, dehydration during activities performed over longer periods of time or even muscle damage upon extreme performance, which can all result in kidney failure, are extreme risks for patients with kidney disease. If you suffer from a chronic disease, you should always discuss the type and intensity of the physical activity you wish to perform with a specialist. “Even in healthy people, during the performance of sports activities, especially popular long-distance running, it is important, in relation to kidneys, to observe liquid intake in relatively cold weather. Dehydration can be very dangerous to the kidneys,” Dr. Martin Matoulek, Chairman of the Czech Sports Medicine Association, said.