Obesity Could Worsen Covid-19 Symptoms

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Covid-19, sometimes known as the coronavirus, including the best way to treat and prevent it. And it might be several months before a trustworthy vaccine is developed and available for the masses.

But if you’re someone who reads this site on a somewhat regular basis and stays vigilant with your fitness and nutrition regimen, there is a bit of good news — you’re less likely to suffer severe complications if you catch it. A pair of studies found that obese Covid-19 patients have a harder time recovering from the respiratory virus than those with a slimmer waistline.

One study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that those with a body mass index of 30 or higher (which is considered obese) were 113 percent more likely to be hospitalized due to coronavirus complications than anyone else. They were also 74 percent more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, and 48 percent more likely to die from the virus.

This is because obese people tend to have a harder time fighting off infections in general, never mind something as severe as Covid-19. Obesity can impair cell functions, increase insulin resistance, and put you in danger of other complications such as high blood pressure.

“Individuals with obesity are also more likely to experience physical ailments that make fighting this disease harder, such as sleep apnea, which increases pulmonary hypertension, or a body mass index that increases difficulties in a hospital setting with intubation,” study co-author Melinda Beck, professor of nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement.

America already has a 40 percent obesity rate, and the researchers worry that stay-at-home orders coupled with limited food supplies could exacerbate that problem.

And they’re not the only ones. A separate study out of the University of Alabama found that morbid obesity accounts for 9 percent of Covid-19-related deaths — that might not sound like a lot to you, but the researchers claim that number is worth exploring more in-depth.

“The current global pandemic of COVID-19, which is highly contagious with presumed high mortality rates, has dramatically increased the need to understand the association between obesity and negative health outcomes from respiratory disease, particularly death,” Dr. Lisa Pawloski, professor of anthropology and associate dean for international programs for the UA College of Arts & Sciences, said in a statement.

“The findings suggest that areas with larger obese populations will need greater resources for effective treatment of COVID-19, as more cases and deaths should be expected as compared with the general population,” Pawloski added.

Just another reason to stay tuned to our homepage for the best training and nutrition advice to keep your BMI low.