Obesity Heightens COVID-19 Risks

We have busy lives that don’t lend themselves to cooking or working on healthy diets. We have jobs or health conditions that lead to mostly sedentary lifestyles. Our culture presents us with unhealthy food options more readily than healthy fare. Premade options are rarely the healthiest options. And manufactured food is stuffed with hidden sugar. All of this adds up to a country that is overweight. Over 40 percent of Americans are obese.

Many of us are looking for extra motivation to lose weight. It’s hard for all of the reasons we listed above. There are no easy fixes. A healthy diet can be more expensive, and carving out time to exercise can be difficult. But, the latest news about COVID-19 may give you more motivation than ever to try to lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

Researchers gathered information from 75 studies from around the world. They had data from almost 400,000 patients. They found that obesity doubles your risk of becoming hospitalized when you have COVID-19 and increases your risk of dying by almost 50 percent. Additionally, the findings said that researchers should be looking at obesity while testing the vaccine against COVID-19 to be sure it is effective for obese people when it is released.

The researchers were surprised to see how much higher the risk was for obese people. Obesity is linked to other health conditions that can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation, putting a strain on organs. Additionally, being overweight can mean carrying extra pounds on your chest and abdomen, making breathing harder.

Prof. Barry Popkin of the Univ. of North Carolina said that “Vaccine researchers should look at how it affects obese individuals” to be sure it will protect everyone.

We are not saying that the vaccine will be ineffective in populations with obesity, but rather that obesity should be considered as a modifying factor to be considered for vaccine testing,” said Prof. Melinda Beck of the Univ. of North Carolina who worked on the research. “Even a less protective vaccine will still offer some level of immunity.”

You may look at this and feel like throwing your hands up in the air. Obesity is considered anything over a BMI of 30. If you are obese, or are on the cusp, this news may make you feel helpless. However, it’s always possible to take steps to get on track.

The first step is to continue to take precautions against becoming ill: wash your hands, wear a mask, socially distance from people in public and get tested quickly if you come in contact with anyone who may be sick. Your second step is to get some exercise. Many of us have been stuck inside for months. Getting exercise outdoors strengthens your immune system. You can not only burn calories, you can get some vitamin D and you can also help your mood — which is related to your immune system.

If you have concerns about your weight or your risks for COVID-19, speak to your doctor. A doctor who knows your medical history can give you the best advice when it comes to your healthy routine!
August 31, 2020
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