This month’s discussion is about the association between coronavirus and obesity. It is possible, of course, for anyone to get infected with the coronavirus. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that there is a clear connection between obesity and the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. Even more concerning is that if you get infected with the corona virus and you are obese you are statistically more likely to end up in the hospital. That is to say, obese patients are more likely to get the severe form of the disease.
The reasons why obesity represents a risk for Covid-19 are not totally clear at this time but some potential factors are 1) the virus attaches to receptors that are more common on fat cells, 2) the effect of obesity on immune function (it impairs it), 3) the effect of obesity on inflammation (it makes it worse) and 4) extra weight on the chest making it harder to breath and clear the virus.
If you are reading this and you’ve had weight loss surgery and lost a significant amount of weight, congratulations! Losing a significant amount of weight is one of the best things you can do for your health, reducing your risk of not just Corona but diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea and a whole host of other medical problems.
If you are reading this and your BMI is over 40 (click here to calculate your BMI) you need to be extra cautious with social distancing and hand hygiene. If you have underlying medical conditions you want to make sure they are well managed. If you are diabetic, make sure your blood sugar is well controlled. If you have high blood pressure, take your medications. If you have sleep apnea, use your CPAP machine to get a good night’s sleep…good, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do to support your immune system!
Some other things, you can do to support your immune system (and overall health) is to exercise and to eat good, healthy food (click here for my blog about eating REAL food). Of course, the most effective way to reduce your risk of Covid-19 is to lose weight and get your BMI down to the ideal range (18.5-24.9). If your BMI is 40 or above you should consider bariatric surgery.
By Dr. Michael Bilof
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