Early on in the pandemic, it became clear that some people were more prone to severe infection and even death if infected with COVID-19. Over the last year, much research has been conducted to pinpoint all of the various risk factors—age, pre-existing conditions, race, socioeconomic status included. While some of the risk factors are uncontrollable, there are a few that can actually be remedied. And one of them, if left untreated, could make you three times more likely to die from the virus if infected. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Those With Obesity Are More Likely to Die
According to a study published in the AHA journal Circulation, people who suffer from obesity are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, are at an increased risk for severe infection, and are more likely to die—regardless of age.
"Younger people often think they're invincible from COVID, but we wanted to find out if that was really true," said Hendren, a cardiology fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The study looked at data from patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at 88 U.S. hospitals taking part in the AHA's COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry, per the American Heart Association. "We didn't expect the results to be so striking for young adults. If you're in your 20s or 30s or 40s, you're not bulletproof if you're severely obese."
Not only did they find that obesity was a clear risk factor, but risk increased with BMI. Those categorized as severely obese with a BMI of 40 or greater were at more than double the risk of being put on a ventilator and a 26% higher risk of death compared to normal-weight patients.
They also discovered that the relationship with mortality was strongest in younger adults—patients under 50 with severe obesity had a 36% higher risk of death compared to their normal-weight peers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42 percent of US adults have obesity, and the numbers are increasing. “Obesity is a common, serious, and costly chronic disease. Having obesity puts people at risk for many other serious chronic diseases and increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” they explain on their page dedication to the relationship between obesity and COVID.
They also offer a variety of suggestions on how individuals can improve their health via diet, fitness, sleep, and stress coping skills.
What to Do If You’re Obese
“Now, more than ever, it is critical for our population to focus on their own health and use food as medicine to bolster their own health and thereby reduce the overall burden on your health care system which is already buckling under the burden of COVID-19 layered on top of chronic disease, which affects 6 out of 10 Americans,” Dr. Mark Hyman wrote in a blog post last year, also offering guidance on how to improve immunity during the pandemic, with one of the key ways being “using food as medicine.” He adds: “Those with a chronic disease are almost 10 times as likely to die. Those with obesity are almost 3 times more likely to die.”
If you fall into the parameters of obesity, there is no better time to discuss your health with your MD and take action to improve your health. So follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.