Why are Obese People at a Higher Risk for COVID-19?

It is common knowledge that the pandemic has contributed to a significant number of people gaining weight. With several lockdowns, self-isolating and working from home many people have begun stress eating, having minimal to no exercise and erratic sleep schedules. Additionally, self-isolation is prompting many to rely on processed food with longer shelf life instead of fresh produce, and canned food, which increases the intake of sodium. All these factors inevitably contribute to weight gain and although you may not have COVID-19, factors like these can make you sick.

While gaining a few extra pounds is completely normal and mostly doesn’t affect your health, excessive weight gain can have the opposite effect. A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that 42% of US adults have experienced undesired weight gain during the pandemic, with an average gain of 29 pounds. However, did you know that obesity-related conditions seem to put people at a higher risk for COVID-19? 

The Impact of Obesity on COVID-19

There have been several reports and studies conducted indicating obesity to be a strong factor for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. A study in France conducted on 124 patients admitted to the ICU said that 75.8% of the patients were obese and indicated a high incidence of obesity among patients admitted for COVID-19. These patients also required invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV), which is meant to assist or replace breathing in patients due to their inability to do so. Additionally, further studies concluded that obesity was a major risk factor for the severity of COVID-19 in a group of patient’s metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD). 

A study from Rhode Island, USA showed that there is a strong association between obesity and disease severity. The study was conducted on 103 adult patients who were admitted with COVID-19 to the hospital. It was concluded that patients with extreme obesity, those with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35kg, are at a high risk of severe COVID-19. 

A similar study was conducted by New York University health center on 3615 COVID-19 patients. The study showed that younger, positive symptomatic patients (below the age of 60 with a BMI greater than 30kg) who visited the hospital were more than twice likely to be admitted and develop critical illness compared to patients with a BMI less than 30kg. The likelihood of admission to ICU increased to 3.6 times in patients with severe obesity. It was concluded that after age, obesity was the single most important factor for hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Similarly, many other studies were conducted to signify the increased threat of COVID-19 on people with obesity. Some even go to say that obesity increases the risk of mortality in patients. Now, with the increase in state and worldwide vaccinations taking place, it is advised to get vaccinated at the earliest. Are you confused about the many vaccines available? Read Which COVID-19 vaccine is the best on our blog. 

What Can You do to Keep Your Weight in Check?

As opposed to the past, obesity is now not recognized as a lifestyle choice but it is recognized in medicine and globally as a chronic disease. When a patient is diagnosed with a disease or a chronic condition, they are advised to seek out professional medical help. Similarly, people struggling with weight issues or obesity should do the same. Getting the appropriate care and support is as important as following a strict and structured diet. 

In simpler cases, all you need to do is take a step back and assess the lifestyle changes that you wish to make during this stressful time. You can pre-plan meals, eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, cut down on starch, eat lean protein and produce. It is also important to have plenty of water and stay hydrated. A glass of water before a meal and 30 minutes after a meal, can greatly take the edge off your hunger. Following such a diet and sticking to it could make you feel full and help prevent cravings and unnecessary eating. 

Following other simple principles could greatly benefit you as well. For example, before grocery shopping, make a list of all your necessities and stick to it. It also helps if you go shopping on a full stomach so that you are not tempted to unnecessarily splurge. Impulse buying can lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits. A very handy trick to tell the difference between genuine hunger and cravings is that hunger builds gradually while cravings are specific and often spontaneous.

There are many nutritionists and professionals you can visit to gain knowledge on the appropriate diets, exercise, surgeries and medication you can take. At Buckhead Medicine, our healthcare professionals can assist with your weight loss strategies to ensure they are safe and effective. You can reach out to our office to secure an appointment that suits your schedule. We will guide you through your fitness journey to ensure you remain healthy. We tackle all the arena’s of weight loss from diet, exercise, implementing good habits and even prescribing FDA approved medication that can help you lose weight. To book an online consultation with doctors in Atlanta, Georgia, contact Buckhead Medicine. You can also schedule an appointment and visit our medical practice for routine check-ups, to know more about our weight loss program. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to know more about how our team of doctors can help.