Why Patients With Obesity Must Be Cautious To Stay Away From COVID

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Covid-19 can lead to more complications when it comes to patients who are overweight or those who suffer from obesity (Body Mass Index (BMI) ? 27.5 Kg/m2). If you suffer from obesity, then it is high time that you must start cutting down on those excess kilos to avoid these complications.

Obesity is already a worldwide pandemic. In the year 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has further added to the risks and complications of obesity. So, if you are one of those who are predisposed to gaining oodles of weight then you must become extra cautious as obesity is considered an added risk factor for Covid-19. Various studies suggest that many of the sickest patients who got infected with Coronavirus suffered from obesity. Obesity is an underlying factor for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and clotting of blood and has a detrimental effect on function of the lungs. Obesity is also a state of chronic inflammation and this coupled with malnutrition may lead to impaired immune response in patients increase susceptibility to all influenza viruses including COVID-19. Patients with obesity tend to experience a more severe and serious course of the infection and also tend to get transferred to the ICU more than other patients.

The number of Covid 19 cases is still rising at an alarming rate. Hence, as a first step, it is imperative to monitor your weight and calculate your body mass index (BMI). BMI between 18.5 to 23.5 kg/m2 is considered in the normal weight category. BMI between 23.5 to 27.5 kg/ m2 is considered overweight, between 27.5 to 32.5 kg/ m2 falls under grade 1 obesity, 32.5 to 37.5 kg/ m2 under grade 2 obesity and above 37.5 kg/ mis considered as grade 3 obesity.

Weight gain during the lockdown

The causes for weight gain during this period are many. Sudden lockdowns changed our world overnight and forced everyone to stay indoors indefinitely. All the avenues for physical activity like gyms, parks, yoga centres and all other outdoor pursuits were stopped abruptly. Lockdowns also brought immense stress and uncertainty in our lives. Interpersonal issues, job related problems and financial difficulties added to the strain and anxiety during this period leading to altered sleep cycles. Staying at home with no other way left to entertain themselves, a lot of people reveled in cooking and eventually eating all the delicacies prepared by them.

When it comes to weight gain, there are two groups of people- those who were normal weight and those who were already suffering from obesity or being overweight. During lockdown, many people in both groups gained weight.

People with obesity MUST be extra cautious

  • To battle the bulge, it is the need of the hour to exercise every day. A well-balanced diet is also necessary, as is portion control.
  • Pay attention to reducing stress and having a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. For those who fall into the overweight or grade 1 obese category, it is important to see a qualified weight loss specialist in the form of a dietician.
  • Diet, exercise, stress and sleep are four modifiable factors amongst the many causes of obesity that we can work on and hope to regularize. With professional help, wonders can be achieved and significant weight loss can take place.
  • People who suffer from grade 3 obesity must take their health very seriously and must consult bariatric surgery teams. Obesity is the root cause of many associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint-related issues, and PCOS, lung, and liver diseases. It has also been implicated as a poor prognostic factor for Covid-19 infection. Bariatric surgery is the only effective option for weight loss for patients who suffer from morbid obesity.

Obesity is a condition that affects the body from head to toe. Covid 19 pandemic has shown us that people who suffer from obesity are in a very fragile state of health. Like every other disease, treatment is most effective when the disease is treated early and in the right way. Hence if you feel that the scales are tipping over, do consult a qualified weight loss specialist at the earliest. Also, strictly follow the norms of hand-washing, masking up and social distancing to avoid getting infected. Stay safe, stay healthy.

Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

Bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon

Currae Hospital, Thane.

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