As the number of coronavirus patients around the world begins to gradually decrease, more and more researchers and doctors are linking overweight to covid-19.
Indeed, Chinese scientists* published in April 2020 in The Lancet a study showing once again the sad link between overweight and health. This study showed that out of 383 coronavirus patients admitted to a hospital in Shenzhen, 42% were overweight or obese. Worse still, among them the risk of developing severe pneumonia was 2 to 42 times higher than other patients.
In France, the intensive care anaesthetist Hervé Quintard reported in the newspaper Le Monde that among 40 of his patients admitted to intensive care, “95% are overweight or obese, often with associated hypertension and diabetes”.
Matthieu Schmidt, medical resuscitator at the Parisian hospital of La Pitié-Salpêtrière also explained that 83% of hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are overweight or obese people, often with an association with diabetes or hypertension.
There is no shortage of examples and they reveal a sad reality: far beyond the simple aesthetic aspect, overweight caused by junk food, overeating and lack of physical activity is clearly the disease of the century.
It can never be said enough, overweight increases the risk of disease: diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer… the list is long and now we must add the complications related to covid-19.
WHY THE GREATER RISK?
We don’t know exactly what role obesity plays in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. But the mechanisms are likely to be multifaceted.
Of course obesity has a significant impact on lung function. Excess weight around the abdomen can compress the chest, making it more difficult for the diaphragm to move. This can contribute to lower levels of oxygen in the blood, which may exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19.
We also know obesity results in a chronic state of inflammation which can impair the body’s immune response. This could potentially make it more difficult for the body to fight coronavirus.
OBESITY WEAKENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Must we remind people that, as I wrote in my previous article, the immune system is closely linked to lifestyle (activity level, food quality, pollution*, cigarette, alcohol…)!
Unfortunately, overweight people are rarely overweight because they eat too much calorie from fruits and vegetables but rather because they eat too much junk food (empty calorie food) that does not provide the nutrients needed to maintain a strong immune system.
WHAT TO DO
Covid-19 is a new disease and it will still take months or even years to know, prevent and cure it. If we have to draw a conclusion about this epidemic from a health point of view, I would say that we must all fight overweight and obesity together, not just by dieting or going back to exercise to lose weight, but by making a complete change in our lifestyle:
1- Move more and exercise on a regular basis;
2- Rebalance your diet by eating lots of fruits and vegetables (organic if possible);
3- Reduce stress by giving your body the physical and mental rest it needs;
4- Avoid urban pollution and pollutants such as tobacco and alcohol.
I know it’s hard to follow these recommendations, but in the long run, that’s what will prevent a lot of diseases and will help you to live a healthy long life. If you do your best to follow these rules, you shouldn’t need to see any doctors for a long time 🙂
By Serge Fontrier
Lin Xu et al., 01 Apr. 2020, “Obesity and COVID-19 Severity in a Designated Hospital in Shenzhen, China”. The Lancet.
Sandrine Cabut, 07 Apr. 2020. “Coronavirus : les personnes obèses représentent une proportion très élevée des patients en réanimation en France“, Le Monde.
Xiao Wu et al., 24 Apr. 2020. “Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States”. medRxiv 20054502; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.05.20054502