Malaysia will rank as one of the countries with the highest number of kidney failure cases by 2030 if current unhealthy lifestyle and trends of Malaysians continue, according to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

“We will become among the top country in the world with the highest number of kidney failure cases in 2030 if the current trend is not stopped,” he said, adding that incidences of kidney failure due to diabetes is on the rise nationwide, with nearly 40,000 kidney patients reported in the country since last year.

Obesity on the rise – linked with kidney disease

The latest National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015 found that 17.7% of Malaysians – over five million people – were obese, and an additional 30% were overweight. These statistics are a significant increase from 20 years ago, when 4.4% of the population was obese.

It was also revealed that the highest percentage of people who were overweight and obese were from Putrajaya, with a 37% chance of being overweight and 43% obesity rate. The survey showed that 40.3% of government and semi-government employees were found to be obese.

“The prevalence of high blood cholesterol levels or hypercholesterolemia was 48%, high blood pressure or hypertension prevalence was at 30% and diabetes prevalence was at 17.5%,” said Hilmi, stressing that cases are becoming more common, and that the situation was alarming.

Obesity can independently effect renal haemodynamics and disrupt the blood flow in the kidneys, said Professor Dr Goh Bak Leong, senior consultant nephorologist and head of the Nephrology Department in Hospital Serdang.

“Individuals with a low number of nephrons are the most susceptible to these changes,” he said. “Multiple mechanisms have been postulated, where obesity directly impacts kidney disease, including hyperfiltration, increased glomerular capillary wall tension, and podocyte stress.”

Parents should be role models for health behaviour

In children, obesity can also lead to secondary health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and sleep disorders, which can disrupt their development and quality of life.

“It will also compromise their cognitive ability and educational attainment, increase their vulnerability to illnesses and lead to increased health costs and loss of human capital and productivity,” said Goh.

The NHMS 2015 revealed that 11.9% of children aged 18 years and below were obese, while 7% of children who were obese are below the ages of five.

According to Dr Arini Nuran Idris, a paediatric endocrinologist at the Paediatric Institute of Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the American Academy of Paediatrics has recommendations for families to help children maintain a healthy weight.

“Parents and families are strongly encouraged to be a role model for healthy behaviour in children,” she said. “Adequate sleep is crucial to prevent weight issues. Children who sleep less than nine hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese.”

In addition to adopting active lifestyles and better dietary habits, Arini urged for parents to bring their children for annual health checkups.

“During this visit, the doctor measures your child’s height and weight, and calculates his or her Body Mass Index (BMI),” she said.

“Depending on the severity and complexity of the weight problem, he or she may be referred to a family medicine specialist or a paediatrician, or a paediatric endocrinologist for further management.” MIMS

Read more:
Malaysia needs more oncologists and specialists to treat cancer patients
Kidney failure: A Singapore journey
Singapore study shows live kidney donation does not contribute to poorer health