Why Obesity Increases the Risk for COVID-19 Complications
We have repeatedly heard that seniors and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may be more prone to suffer the negative effects of the coronavirus. One factor that has been somewhat overlooked is that of obesity. Obesity increases the risk for COVID-19 complications for various reasons, as obesity itself opens people up to many health conditions.
However, new studies show that individuals who are obese but have no other health conditions may be more susceptible to the dangers. In fact, obesity is the second highest risk factor for coronavirus complications, with age being the highest.
It’s clear that young adults who are obese have been greatly impacted if they contract the virus, but the reasons why this is so are not.
One theory is that obesity contributes to lower respiratory function, and one of the most significant symptoms of the coronavirus is difficulty breathing. Excessive weight may compress the diaphragm, lungs, and chest. Obesity also has been correlated with chronic, low-grade inflammation and an increase in cytokines, which play a role in the worst COVID-19 outcomes.
As posted on the CDC website, severe obesity (defined as a body mass index of 40 or above) “puts people at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website states: “Severe obesity increases the risk of a serious breathing problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a major complication of COVID-19 and can cause difficulties with a doctor’s ability to provide respiratory support for seriously ill patients.”
According to the CDC, people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be a higher risk for developing more serious complications from the coronavirus. ‘
Therefore, one may gather that the relationship between the coronavirus and obesity is also about a domino effect based on overall well-being.
- Obesity may lead to clogged arteries and heart disease.
- When the arteries are clogged, the heart must work harder to send oxygen through the body. As a result, patients who are on ventilators may have an even more difficult time trying to breathe.
- Among other factors, Type II diabetes is correlated with being overweight.
To prevent this, the CDC recommends individuals to take medications for underlying health conditions exactly as prescribed.
The idea that obesity increases the risk for COVID-19 complications, however, would require much more research. Some opponents say this research did not account for socio-economic factors, race, or quality of care.