There are various factors that influence the extent to which we are likely to be affected by Covid-19, should we be unfortunate enough to catch it. Some of those factors are out of our control – our gender and ethnic origin, for example. Others we can influence, these include our vitamin D status and our weight.
OBESITY & COVID-19
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report that 73% of critically ill patients with Covid-19 in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands are obese. In a study of nearly 17,000 hospital patients with Covid-19 in the UK, those who were obese had a 33% greater risk of dying than those who were not.
It’s important to remember that, medically speaking, ‘obese’ can mean being just a couple of stone overweight.
So why is it that being obese can increase our risk? There is a lot we are still learning about this virus. Much is still unknown. However, here are some insights from a Public Health England report.
EXCESS WEIGHT PHYSICALLY IMPACTS AIRWAYS
Fat deposition around the upper airway and a heavier thorax can directly impact on and reduce lung function, which along with the effects of the virus may affect circulating levels of oxygen.
BEING OVERWEIGHT CAUSES INFLAMMATION
Fat cells secrete pro-inflammatory messengers and being overweight is known to induce a state of low grade systemic inflammation. This has been suggested to affect the performance of anti-viral treatment of flu.
OBESITY INCREASES RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS
There are known links between obesity and thrombotic (blood clot) risks. This is relevant as the hyperimmune response in Covid-19 may cause higher risk of ‘venous thromboembolism’ (obstruction of a blood vessel by a blood clot).
I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg and we will continue to learn more as the days and weeks pass.
Many things can motivate us to lose weight. Common motivators I hear from clients include clothes no longer fitting, reduced confidence and not feeling as fit and health as they would like. But there are few reasons I can think of more pressing than this to prioritise achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.