Did you know that there is a relationship between the severity of COVID-19 and obesity? Unfortunately, studies have found that the risk of COVID-19 causing hospitalisations or proving fatal rises with an increased BMI.
Why does obesity increase the risks of COVID-19?
It’s still developing research to why people suffering obesity and higher BMIs are more at-risk to the deadly virus. However, it quite possibly could be linked to how obesity impacts the immune system. Obesity weakens the immune systems and makes it more challenging for the body to fight off infections and inflammation.
Although inflammation helps the body fight off harmful bacteria, it’s not effective when it’s a frequently recurring problem, and it can be for those who are overweight or obese.
Obesity also causes many metabolic changes, such as insulin resistance which make it hard for the body to remove glucose from the blood. This can lead to uncontrolled serum glucose, leading to the diagnosis of diabetes, which can impair the function of the immune cells.
Plus carrying the extra weight puts a lot of strain on bodily functions and can limit the lungs ability to expand and breathe.
These factors all impair immune cell metabolism and weaken the immune system. This ultimately determines how your body will respond to pathogens such as COVID-19.
What is obesity, and what do the numbers look like?
Obesity is a disease which involves an excessive amount of body fat, that increases the risk of many diseases and health concerns. Medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease and some forms of cancer.
To be classified as overweight, your BMI must be greater than or equal to 25. Whilst obesity is classified as greater than or equal to 30.
According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975. WHO also states that:
- 9 billion adults are overweight, of this, 650 million are obese (2016)
- Over 340 million children and adolescents (5-19) were overweight or obese (2016)
- 39% of adults (18 and over) are overweight, while 13% are obese (2016)
However, for Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey of 2017-18 showed that 67% of Australian adults were overweight or obese. Also displayed that 24.9% of children aged 5-17 were overweight or obese.
These numbers are a huge concern to health professionals and put a great portion of the Australian community at an increased risk to COVID-19.
Evidence supporting the link between obesity and COVID-19
An analysis of 16,749 patients in the UK who were admitted to hospital showed that obesity increased the chances of fatality by 37% compared to admissions with a healthy weight.
Another study from 4,000 hospitalisations in New York showed that patients with a BMI of more than or equal to 35 were 3.6 more likely to be admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) over patients with a healthy weight.
While another study undertaken by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill expresses that obesity increases the risk of hospitalisation by 113%, ICU by 74% and risk of death by 48%.
UNC also states that roughly 40% of Americans are obese and the number will grow due to lockdowns, as the consumption of more processed shelf products with longer expiry dates, and the lack of individuals to sustain healthy lifestyles increases. This does not only apply to the US but also other nations around the globe.
These numbers are staggering and nothing to mess around with.
Which is why it’s important to stay fit and healthy
Dr Kevin Dolan is a weight loss surgeon who has some tips to help people sustain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the chances of putting on weight.
- Stay hydrated – Important to drink about 2.5L of water a day.
- Exercise – Do what you can, any exercise counts, but aim for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Eat healthier – This includes eating vegetables, fruits for minerals and vitamins. While reducing sugar and carb intake.
- Enough sleep – Sleep is key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle; adults require about 7 to 9 hours per night.
- Protein-rich foods – Did you know that protein is great for killing sugar cravings by increasing dopamine and keeping you fuller for longer?
- Eat slower & smaller plate – Allows you to eat less food and feel full, while having less on your plate.
- Drink coffee – Quality coffee, preferably black, without any additives (sugar, sweeteners, etc.) can boost metabolism and increase fat burning.
These are some tips that can help you lose weight, and you can find many more by contacting Dr Kevin Dolan and his team, or by simply Googling weight loss solutions online.
However, our biggest takeaway for you is don’t DIET, eat HEALTHIER instead! This means maintaining a healthier, balanced lifestyle with plenty of exercise, hydration, sleep and healthier foods. Over time this could lead to a healthier, happier and fitter YOU!