Obesity Increases Your Risk of Dying From COVID-19 by Almost 50 Percent

·2 min read
Photo credit: Jackyenjoyphotography - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jackyenjoyphotography - Getty Images

From Men's Health

Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19 since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, experts say having obesity may increase your chances of dying of COVID-19 by nearly 50 percent, according to an analysis published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

People who had a BMI higher than 30 were at an increased risk for hospitalization, were admitted to the intensive care unit more often, and had a higher chance of dying from COVID-19. The review included 75 studies from around the world, includes recent data, and was well done, according to John Whyte, M.D. MPH, Chief Medical Officer of WebMD.

Obesity is linked to numerous other risk factors for COVID-19, including hypertension, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. This may explain why high BMIs are more linked to severe cases of COVID. However, people with obesity who have no underlying conditions are still more likely to get severely ill.

"It looks like obesity itself is a risk factor for having a bad outcome if you get COVID. The other conditions add on even more risk," says Dr. Whyte.

Obesity can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, which make it harder for the body to fight off the infection, the authors note. Further, researchers worry a future vaccine may not work as well in people with obesity.

"Potentially the vaccines developed to address COVID‐19 will be less effective for individuals with obesity due to a weakened immune response," they write.

However, there is no evidence of this yet. "This is something we will need to monitor and watch closely," says Dr. Whyte.

Wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands are the best ways to avoid getting sick. Dr. Whyte suggests being active—even if it's just going for a walk—and maintaining a well-balanced diet to reduce your risk of getting severely sick. He also recommends watching for symptoms.

"Listen to your body and call your doctor if you are not feeling well. You may need to be tested," says Dr. Whyte.

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