COVID-19 and obesity: Doctors studying link between excess weight and severe disease


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  3 weeks ago  •  8 comments

By:   The Associated Press

COVID-19 and obesity: Doctors studying link between excess weight and severe disease
Does obesity increase a person's risk for severe COVID-19? The link is becoming more apparent and researchers are trying to understand why.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Obesity may be one reason some countries or communities have been hit hard by the virus, researchers say. In the United States, the obesity rate among adults has climbed for decades and is now at 42 percent. The rate is even higher among Black and Hispanic Americans.

A person who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall is considered obese starting at around 190 pounds, or a body mass index of 30. The increased risk for serious COVID-19 illness appears more pronounced with extreme obesity, or a BMI of 40 or higher.

Researchers say multiple factors likely make it harder for people who are obese to fight a coronavirus infection, which can damage the lungs. Carrying around a lot of extra weight strains the body, and that excess fat could limit the lungs' ability to expand and breathe.

Another issue is chronic inflammation, which often comes with obesity. Inflammation is a natural way our bodies fight harmful intruders like viruses. But long-lasting inflammation isn't healthy and could undermine your body's defenses when a real threat arises.

"It's like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an obesity researcher and dean of Tufts University's school of nutrition science and policy near Boston.

And even if people who are obese aren't diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, Mozaffarian notes their health may not be optimal.

How fat is distributed in the body may play a role too. One study found an increased risk for death from COVID-19 for people with severe obesity, but only among men. The findings could reflect that men tend to carry fat around the stomach, said Sara Tartof, a co-author of the study who researches infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. That type of fat is more associated with the production of a hormone that could be contributing to more severe illness, she said.

Scientists are also exploring whether there's something specific about the coronavirus itself that makes the obese more susceptible to getting very sick.

For example, the virus infects cells by attaching to receptors on the surface of certain cells. That receptor is abundant on fat cells and scientists are studying whether that makes them "a good nest for the virus," said Dr. Francois Pattou at the University of Lille in France, who has co-authored research on the link between obesity and severe COVID-19 illness.

Complications in care can arise once hospitalized, too. To help with breathing, for example, doctors have been putting patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on their stomachs. But that can be difficult for the obese, making it more likely they're put on ventilators.

"They need a machine to help just do the work," said Dr. David Kass of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, who has co-authored a study on obesity and severe COVID-19 illness.

Yet another concern: A COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective for the obese, as seems to be the case with the flu and other vaccines.

Why that might be isn't known, but one possibility is that obesity impairs an aspect of the immune system that needs to be activated for vaccines to work, said Dr. Nancie MacIver, who researches how weight affects the immune system at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And she said whatever factors are at play would likely be applicable to a COVID-19 vaccine, but added that it is still important to get it.

The Associated Press


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1  CB     3 weeks ago
Complications in care can arise once hospitalized, too. To help with breathing, for example, doctors have been putting patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on their stomachs. But that can be difficult for the obese, making it more likely they're put on ventilators.

Obese people compromise their health with this coronavirus, due to a high degree of chest inflammation and its placing restriction on the cavity's ability to expand to make room for productive inhalations.

I see folks walking around nowadays and I think to myself that this one really would not do well with chest inflammation. This would be a really great time to rethink fat, just having it for its own sake! Those kinds of 'curves' ain't gonna be it in 2021. They could be a death sentence!

1.1  FLYNAVY1  replied to  CB @1    3 weeks ago

One really needs to spend some time living abroad to gain a more subjective perspective of America and Americans.  Yes, we are supersized by comparison to our European cousins.  Our nutritional habits are poor, our daily exercise routines is an all or nothing proposition, while we pile on more and more stress in our daily lives from all quarters.

Don't get me wrong, we love being home after eight years in Europe, but as Americans, what we are doing to ourselves physically and mentally is not improving our lives while at the same time, shortening them. 

We should be better than this, and it is going to take some creative thinking and discipline to get there.  Unfortunately our society has been built around the convenience of quick food, and quick transportation.   Both of those negatively impact good nutrition and exercise, which can easily explain the weight gain we see in our society.  Is it any wonder that with respect to Covid, that our choices in lifestyle and the lack of adherence to just basic health concepts like wearing masks is biting us in our fat asses?  I think a reasonable person would see the connections.

1.1.1  CB   replied to  FLYNAVY1 @1.1    3 weeks ago

A trick to lose weight and keep it off: Eat one's personal best of high fiber products (read the labels for fiber content). Operative words in italics. Find the highest fiber content you can: it's out there.

1.1.2  FLYNAVY1  replied to  CB @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

That works..... 

Hope you're well today CB....

1.1.3  CB   replied to  FLYNAVY1 @1.1.2    3 weeks ago

I'm good. Wishing you and yours the best (high fiber days ever)!

2  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Over 40% of US adults are obese. That is a stunning figure and is also an underlying condition that makes COVID much deadlier.

Close to 20% of adolescents 2 to 19 are obese.

Split Personality
2.1  Split Personality  replied to  Kavika @2    3 weeks ago

I watched two researchers the other day describing this as a blood vessel disease.

The larger the patient, presumably, the more blood vessels...

MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
3  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)    3 weeks ago

I can see how obesity could affect COVID reaction. 

I personally have an issue with BMI though. I realize that I could lose about 30 lbs; however, even if I lose 30 lbs, I would be considered obese by BMI charts. I'm only 4'11" but have a physical frame of someone much taller, I've been told this by doctors, several of them. When I weighed 115 lbs, I had one doctor tell me that I needed to lose 15 lbs, because the "charts" said I should weigh 95-100 lbs. At 115, you could count my ribs and vertebra and my hip bones stuck out by about an inch. Another doctor told me that BMI charts don't fit for everyone and that I should never be 95-100 lbs. 120 - 125 is my personal perfect number for weight and BMI charts state that I'm obese at 120-125. The other thing is, BMI doesn't take genetics into consideration. The women in my family gain weight as they age, no matter how physical they are on a daily basis or how they eat. Ironically enough, my skeleton of a husband has a "perfect" BMI, yet he's the one with sky high triglycerides, horrible cholesterol, high blood pressure, and his blood sugar is borderline diabetic. ALL of my numbers for the aforementioned are perfect except for my BMI.

When I was in Europe for work, I wasn't any larger than most of the Romanian public. I couldn't eat a "standard" sized meal in Romania. It was all fresh food and it was delicious; however, there was far more on a plate than I'm used to personally. Yes, I lost a few lbs when overseas, because we walked EVERYWHERE. This isn't always feasible in my area, but my family does go for bike rides, walks, and we enjoy playing Wii Just Dance, which is physical. In January and February when it's 10˚F and the wind is blowing 20 mph, it's too cold to be walking for any length of time and too icy for biking. I don't like gyms and I don't really have the money.


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