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Obesity & COVID-19

By: Dr. Scott Perryman

What is obesity?

It’s no secret that obesity is an epidemic in the United States. These days we often lead fairly sedentary lifestyles due to office work and long commutes sitting in the car. In addition to not moving enough, we also have access to calorie-laden packaged foods that are loaded with fats, salts, and toxic additives. This combination of not moving enough and high-calorie foods is the perfect storm for excess weight gain.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index or BMI of 30 or more, calculated based on a person’s weight and height. Although the BMI has its limitations it is still the gold standard when it comes to determining a patient’s risk factors for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. 

According to the CDC, it’s estimated that 93 million adults and almost 14 million children are clinically obese. While these stats are shocking, it is important to understand the root causes of obesity, aside from intaking too many calories 

So what exactly causes obesity? The causes of obesity are multi-faceted and vary greatly from individual however the common causes are: 

  • Eating more calories than you burn on a long-term basis 
  • Having a poor diet, high in fats and calories
  • Living a sedentary  lifestyle and sitting too much 
  • Not sleeping enough which can make you crave high-calorie foods 
  • Genetics
  • Getting older which makes it easier to gain weight 
  • Pregnancy weight which can be hard to lose for various reasons 
  • Certain medical conditions can cause excess weight gain 

Obesity can be caused by a wide range of factors and it’s important to work with your medical team to reduce your weight as much as possible with diet and exercise, sleep, and medication management now more than ever as obesity can make you susceptible to getting colds and viruses like coronavirus. 

What is COVID-19?

We’ve been hearing a lot about  COVID-19 in the news and on social media, however, there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the origin and symptoms of the disease so we wanted to give you a brief and accurate overview of COVID-19,  the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, SARS, and MERS. The new coronavirus we are fighting today originated in China.

Public health groups are monitoring the coronavirus pandemic and have issued recommendations for preventing and treating the illness.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2 – 14 days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

As of May 4th, 2020 the coronavirus death toll has neared 70,000 people in the US. 

Please note this list of symptoms is NOT exhaustive and other symptoms have been reported. Visit the CDC website for comprehensive information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

What You Need to Know: Obesity & COVID-19

“Obesity may be one of the most important predictors of severe coronavirus illness, new studies say. It’s an alarming finding for the United States, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.” – Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times*

Although individuals with obesity often have underlying conditions, a new study indicates that obesity as the sole driver of increased severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The jury is still out and additional studies need to be performed on why obesity makes the disease worse, but there seems to be a relation. 

Theories include that those with obesity already have reduced lung capacity due to excess weight in addition to low-grade inflammation making respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 more intense.

Given that the United States has extremely high obesity rates (almost 40% for adults over 20 years old), it is likely that those who contract coronavirus are at the very least overweight, if not obese. This presents additional problems for medical staff as heavier patients are harder to intubate, position and transport, and increased weight makes diagnostic imaging increasingly precarious. 

Hospitals are already ill-equipped to handle obese patients due to bed sizes, transport equipment, and medical machines with weight limits so the influx of COVID patients can make their jobs even more stressful. 

Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Sick With COVID-19

It is vital to the health of the community that we all do everything in our power to flatten the curve and reduce coronavirus spread. In order to reduce your personal risk of contracting coronavirus there are steps you can take including: 

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay at home as much as possible
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Continue taking all medications and listening to the advice of your medical practitioner 
  • Have at least a 2-week supply of your medications to reduce trips to the pharmacy
  • Ensure your immunizations are up to date 
  • Do not wait to get emergency care because of COVID-19
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911.

We’re Here for You

Looking to improve your own health during this uncertain time? The team at Whole Health Weight Loss Institute is here for you. 

As obesity is the leading cause of many deaths in the United States due to the complications it causes such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, our mission is to help obese individuals take their lives and health back one pound at a time. 

Patients who undergo weight loss procedures at our clinic often experience dramatic weight loss, major appetite reduction, and increased confidence. Losing weight will not only improve your self-image but it will also improve your life expectancy and reduce our risk of developing diseases. 

Schedule a consultation with the Whole Health Weight Loss Institute to start your weight loss journey today: whweightloss.com/contact

*https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/health/coronavirus-obesity-higher-risk.html