March is National Kidney Month


More than 900,000 Michigan adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and most don’t know it. March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan reminds Michiganders about the importance of a healthy lifestyle to keep your kidneys functioning optimally.

The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions such as producing red blood cells and controlling blood pressure. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.

Obesity is one of the biggest contributors to kidney disease. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation – 32 percent of adults and 17 percent of youth are obese. Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. People who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of developing diabetes or high blood pressure, which are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure.

Obesity can also cause direct kidney damage by increasing the kidneys’ workload. Also, people who are overweight or obese are two to seven times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease, compared to those of normal weight. This means that their kidneys will shut down completely, requiring them to be on dialysis or receive a kidney transplant.

The good news is that obesity, as well as CKD, can be prevented. Here are four steps to get started.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet. Focus on eating smaller portions and drinking water rather than sugary drinks. Choose low-sodium options. Eat fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Try healthier variations of your comfort food or high-calorie recipes.
  2. Engage in regular exercise. Physical activity is essential for healthy weight reduction. Your goal should be 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. This can include brisk walking, running, swimming, biking or dancing. The NKFM offers Enhance Fitness and Matter of Balance workshops, designed for adults to improve functional fitness and well-being, in communities across Michigan.
  3. Prevent diabetes. If you have been identified as having prediabetes, consider taking the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an evidence-based lifestyle change program that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of Michiganders by helping them reduce the risk, delay the onset or prevent diabetes. The DPP schedule is at
  4. Learn to manage chronic disease. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes or kidney disease, consider taking a no-cost NKFM Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) course. (PATH) courses provide skills and tools to help people with long-term health problems and their loved ones lead healthier lives. The PATH course schedule is at
  • Finally, get an annual physical examination. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for kidney disease, and ask to be tested for kidney disease. You can also talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that is right for you. If you do not have a doctor because you do not have health care coverage, consider applying for health care coverage, including Medicaid, through your local Department of Health and Human Services office. You can also apply online or call 1-855-789-5610.

To learn more about the risk factors for kidney disease, visit

Kidney Disease Facts:

  • 26 million American adults (age 20+) have chronic kidney disease.
  • More than 900,000 Michigan adults (age 20+) have chronic kidney disease.
  • Individuals with diabetes and high blood pressure are at higher risk for developing chronic kidney disease.
  • African Americans are nearly 3.5 times more likely to develop kidney failure from diabetes than Caucasians.
  • Older individuals, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Arab Americans are all at higher risk for kidney disease.
  • Kidney disease costs American taxpayers nearly $100 billion every year.
  • As the incidence of obesity in children increases, so does the rate of type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of kidney failure. One in three kids born in 2000 will develop diabetes.
  • More than 2,800 people were waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant in Michigan on February 1, 2017.