Obesity and chronic kidney disease

kidney illustration red
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
May 7, 2024

View Know Your Kidneys –  a free doctor discussion guide and learn how to prevent and manage kidney disease.

Being overweight (a body mass index of between 25 and 29.9) or obese (a body mass index above 30) means your weight is higher than what is considered a "healthy weight."

Being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk for high blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two biggest causes of kidney disease. This means that being obese puts you at greater risk for kidney disease.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. It is a way to define overweight or obese. To find your BMI, you can use the Center for Disease Control's (CDC's) Adult BMI Calculator.

  • A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight.
  • A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.
  • A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • A BMI above 30 is considered obese.

What you can do to lose weight

Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your weight.

You may be able to lose weight through lifestyle changes, such as:

Choose healthy foods

  • Incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins in your meals
  • Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar and salt.
  • Avoid soda and juice, and drink plenty of water.


  • Work your way up to exercising at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Try doing things that you enjoy. For example, taking walks, biking, dancing or playing a sport.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine. Try laying out your workout clothes the night before if you like to work out in the morning, or bringing them to work with you to go straight to your exercise after work.
  • Even small bouts of exercise are good for your health. Walk or bike to work or to the store, or take a 30-minute walking break during the day.
  • If you are not already exercising, talk to your doctor about what type of exercise is safe to start with.

Surgical options and medicines may also be available to help you manage your weight. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan for losing weight.