Written on April 14, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Obesity and COVID-19 are two medical conditions that can significantly affect health. Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive body fat that can increase a person’s risk of developing disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer . Obesity can also have implications for COVID-19 infection by increasing the chances of a more severe illness .
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is an illness caused by a virus. COVID-19 predominantly spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes . The COVID-19 virus can cause mild to severe fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, and difficulty breathing . Individuals with obesity who contract COVID-19 are at higher risk of experiencing severe illness, including hospitalization and death, than those without obesity . Obesity is a comorbidity of COVID-19, but there are ways to help reduce your chance of obesity and COVID-19 health risks.
A person with obesity has excessive body fat. Healthcare providers often use body mass index (BMI) to determine if a person’s weight is above what is considered a healthy weight . BMI considers a person’s height and weight to determine if a person is overweight or obese. A BMI below 25 is generally regarded as healthy. Adults with a BMI between 25-29.9 are considered overweight, and a BMI above 30 indicates obesity. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of obesity is 13% of the world’s adult population . In the United States, obesity affects about half the adult population, making it a common disease .
During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals who were overweight or obese were at higher risk of experiencing severe illness, hospitalization, and death than individuals who were not considered obese . Obesity has been identified as one of the major comorbid factors in individuals suffering from COVID-19 . Because obesity increases a person’s morbidity and mortality, high rates of obesity became even more of a public health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic [9, 10].
Why was this the case? People with obesity have an increased risk of conditions like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and respiratory diseases with poor pulmonary function [1,11-13]. These health risks are magnified because obese patients have increased cardiovascular stress, lower cardiorespiratory fitness, dysfunctional immune response, and lower diaphragm contractions . Because of these comorbidity factors, obese patients who contracted COVID-19 had a higher mortality risk. Although we now know a lot about COVID-19, these health risks are still being scientifically studied to understand better how COVID-19 impacts the long-term health of patients who contracted the virus.
Obesity is a complex disease with many comorbidity factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 complications. There are lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of developing obesity. Things you can do to improve your weight and health can include :
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that spreads through respiratory droplets. If you have health risks, here are some easy-to-follow CDC guidelines to help protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19 [16,17]:
Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive body fat that increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Obesity is also a risk factor for severe illness from COVID-19. Lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced and healthy diet, staying active, and minimizing stress can lower the risk of obesity. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, get vaccinated, wear a mask, and keep your distance from others.
If you are concerned about your weight and risks with COVID-19, please speak with your healthcare provider. Everlywell offers access to online weight loss, a telehealth option that lets you consult with a certified clinician remotely.