People who are obese are also at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, alongside the elderly and those with known health conditions
Recent studies have found that alongside those previously known at-risk groups, being the elderly and those with known health conditions, people who are obese are also at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.
A number of the previously known health conditions that we already know can increase the risk of getting further severe illnesses from COVID-19, are also associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today Dr Aseem Malhotra said:
“This is a real problem because it’s not being addressed and it’s not being tackled head-on.”
“The reason for this are twofold – one is excess body fat seems to have an adverse effect when it comes to viral illnesses.”
“We know that with the flu you’re more likely to get severe illness if you’re overweight.”
“But with Covid-19 it also seems to drive an excessive immune response called the ARDS – acute respiratory distress syndrome – that unfortunately causes many people to die.”
“To put this in perspective, only one in eight people in the US – and our figures are likely similar in the UK because more than 60 per cent of our population is overweight or obese – are actually metabolically healthy.
“When you look at the roots of all of this, even pre Covid-19, it’s established that even poor diet now is responsible for 11 million deaths per year.
“Poor diet also causes more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined.”
New research suggests obesity on its own, without the other previously known health conditions present, can cause severe illness after contracting the coronavirus, particularly in those under 60 years of age.
This is concerning, considering that data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) from 2018, showed that 31% of adults in the United Kingdom were recognised as clinically obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI), and 63% of adults in the UK were categorised as overweight or obese.
BMI is not an entirely accurate form measurement for a singular person, but is very useful when it comes to comparing health and weight across a large population and between groups.
A surveillance study of patients in the UK admitted to intensive care with COVID-19, has reported that almost three-quarters of the 6,720 coronavirus patients had a BMI in the overweight or obese range, which is greater than the proportion of the adult population who are overweight or obese in the UK.
You may find it helpful to use any extra time during this pandemic to perhaps view it as an opportunity to make healthier choices and to try and put in place some new habits to reduce your risk of illness and to enhance health and well-being in general going forward.
Making helathier choices may not just reduce you own risks of illness, but could also reduce the stress put on the NHS during this time of global crisis, especially as 25% of NHS Doctors are reportedly unable to work due to being off sick or in isolation due to COVID-19.