It seems like every day there is new and different information surfacing about the coronavirus. One story we have been following is the virus’s tendency to be more harmful and deadly for those who are obese. We first read about this at the beginning of April, and more studies have recently been released that support the idea that people who are overweight are experiencing more serious or even deadly coronavirus symptoms.
In April, data collected from patients with the coronavirus in Louisiana showed that 97% of those who died from the disease had either cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Both of these are usually a result of excess body fat or obesity. In its report, Fox News said, “Not a single one of us is immune to the possibility of becoming obese and developing illness. While we live in the greatest nation in the world with our economic freedoms and access to innovation, we are our own weakest link by not being healthier when this pandemic invaded our borders.”
More recently, a report from New York showed that 2 in every 5 people hospitalized with the coronavirus who required a breathing tube were obese. A report from France found that almost 90% of morbidly obese patients admitted due to COVID-19 required ventilation compared to less than half of those with lower body weight.
Before the outbreak, 1 out of 5 U.S. deaths was associated with a poor diet. Now, we can see that individuals who are overweight, have an underlying illness or are older are all being hit hardest by this virus.
Why COVID-19 Is More Dangerous If You’re Overweight
Being obese can cause many different issues in your body, including the following:
More fat in the chest and belly can increase pressure on the lungs, making it more difficult for them to be filled to capacity during everyday life.
When you have to carry extra weight, you also have a higher oxygen demand. This can cause you to breathe very shallow or too slowly, which does not provide enough oxygen to your body.
As the virus targets your respiratory system, if someone has these issues and is diagnosed with the coronavirus, it can become serious very quickly. However, while these factors can contribute to a patient experiencing more serious COVID-19 symptoms, they don’t entirely explain the high rates of obesity in very sick patients.
Patients who have had a more severe form of COVID-19 are often identified by a higher immune system response, according to data from Wuhan, China. A higher immune system response or reaction is referred to as a “cytokine storm.” Cytokines are the “messengers” in your immune system that tell other cells about threats and trigger inflammation, which leads to fevers or swelling in order to help destroy the pathogen. When your immune system overreacts, however, it will release too many cytokines (a cytokine storm).
Fat tissues store a larger amount of immune cells, which means people who are obese may be more likely to suffer a cytokine storm when they are infected by COVID-19. If a cytokine storm occurs, it can lead to excessive swelling and inflammation. This can cause damage to the organs and weaken the lungs further.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you or someone you know is overweight, it is even more vital for them to follow the recommendations put out by the government. Continue to social distance and to self isolate if need be.
This can be an especially lonely time for people, so make sure to reach out to your loved ones via phone calls or FaceTime. We are all in this together, and we are doing our part to help as much as possible, including now offering COVID-19 antibody testing. Antibody tests can help show how common COVID-19 is and if someone has already been infected with and recovered from the virus. Once scientists know who has had COVID-19, they can study how sick it makes most people and what happens if people who’ve had the virus are exposed to it again. When paired with other scientific information, this can help researchers understand who might now be immune to the virus. The hope is that people with COVID-19 antibodies will be able to safely get back to work and normal life, quicker.
To learn more about the COVID-19 antibody test.
How We Can Help
When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, we want to be your support system and a guide to staying on the right track. It is not easy, but it is very doable! Our medical weight loss programs not only help you lose weight but also teach you how to keep it off! Our patients tell us that they want to look good, feel great and stay healthy, and that’s what we strive to accomplish.
Learn more about our program and the success we have had helping people reach their fitness and wellness goals by visiting our website!