Most of us know that being overweight can contribute to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other health problems, but here’s something that you might not know: Not only does obesity reduce your quality and length of life, it can also reduce your chances of saving a loved one’s life.
According to The New York Times, many potential organ donors are now ineligible to donate because of their weight. Transplant doctors believe that it’s dangerous for overweight and obese people to donate a kidney because their remaining kidney may become overworked, putting them at greater risk for disease.
While there’s no set weight limit, more than half of transplant centers apparently cap their donors’ body mass index (BMI) at 35, and some won’t accept donations from people with BMIs greater than 30. No one knows exactly how many would-be donors are excluded based on their weight alone, but experts believe the number is significant. That’s worrisome considering that more than 92,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney transplant, and the rate of kidney disease is growing steadily, largely because of obesity-related conditions, including diabetes and hypertension.
I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to have a friend or a family member who needs a kidney and be told that you can’t help because you’ve let your weight get out of control.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to lose weight by eating healthy plant-based foods. Studies show that vegans generally have lower BMIs than vegetarians and meat-eaters do. And because many vegan foods are naturally low in fat and calories, there’s less need to scrutinize the nutrition labels of every single food that you put in your mouth. Research shows that vegans are nine times less likely to be obese than meat-eaters are. Vegans are also less likely to suffer from many of the conditions that can reduce one’s life expectancy, including kidney failure, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
So if you haven’t already done so, this may be the impetus for you to go vegan. PETA offers tips on making the transition to a vegan diet for anyone who wants to eat more meat-free meals. Doing so will saves lives, not just animals’ and possibly your own—but potentially also that of a love one who’s in need of an organ donation.