COVID-19 and the growing obesity epidemic

COVID-19 and the growing obesity epidemic

Published On: May 13th, 2021

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 disease pandemic, details have begun to emerge of specific risk factors predisposing sufferers to an increase in severity of symptoms.  Research has indicated obesity as one such characteristic, and evidence for this being a critical co-morbidity have increased as the virus has spread across different populations. Candidate factors mediating this high risk are thought to include: impaired respiratory mechanics, increased airway resistance and impaired gas exchange, and other metabolic features of obesity, such as low respiratory muscle strength and lung volumes.2

Paradoxically, the current efforts to reduce transmission of the virus SARS-CoV2, which causes COVID-19 disease, include lockdown measures that might increase obesity rates. In addition, difficulties in obtaining healthful foods, reliance on longer-life processed foods, curtailing face-to-face weight loss programmes, exercise restrictions, and impacts on mental health could contribute to weight gain in those vulnerable to a propensity to BMI increases.

Advocates of health have long used the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, which helps us understand that health relies on positive dietary choices and the lifestyle choices we make. With no definite end in sight to this current health crisis, it is essential to maximise opportunities to help engage in a healthy lifestyle and lose weight if needed.

  1. Dietz, W. and Santos‐Burgoa, C. (2020) ‘Obesity and its Implications for COVID‐19 Mortality’, Obesity. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, p. oby.22818. doi: 10.1002/oby.22818.
  2. Stefan, N. et al. (2020) ‘Obesity and impaired metabolic health in patients with COVID-19’, Nature Reviews. Endocrinology. Nature Publishing Group, p. 1. doi: 10.1038/S41574-020-0364-6.
Covid Obestity

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