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Several Studies Show Obesity Increases the Risk of COVID-19

Over 107 million American adults are considered obese, and several recent studies have listed obesity as a risk factor for COVID-19. When many medical procedures were put temporarily on the backburner due to the coronavirus pandemic, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) fought hard to keep bariatric surgery on the table, citing it as a necessary treatment. According to ASMBS experts, bariatric surgery should be considered a medically necessary time-sensitive surgery instead of an elective surgery. Those with severe obesity are not only more at risk for COVID-19, but they’re also vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many other life-threatening conditions.

Because doctors now believe obesity is a risk factor for COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, the medical necessity for weight loss is more urgent than ever. Although obese patients have always been at risk for severe health conditions, COVID-19 has shed more light on the risks of delaying bariatric procedures. Garden State Bariatrics & Wellness Center strives to educate patients about the link between obesity and COVID-19 and other illnesses. As one of the largest bariatric surgery providers in Millburn, NJ, we remain open for both in-person and virtual weight loss consultations. You can use our online body mass index calculator to determine if you’re obese. Anyone 100 pounds or more above their ideal body weight may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment!

What Is Coronavirus, and What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is but one type of virus responsible for creating a worldwide pandemic. The name “Covid-19” actually comes from “Coronavirus Disease 2019”. It takes the “Co” from corona, “vi” from virus, “d” from disease, and “19” from the year. There are many types of coronaviruses that are contagious, meaning they can be spread from person to person. Perhaps you remember hearing about SARS in 2003-2004. SARS was another example of a coronavirus. Common COVID-19 symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fever, chills, muscle or body aches, sore throat, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, nausea, congestion, and loss of taste or smell. You don’t have to exhibit any of these symptoms to transmit the COVID-19 virus to others, making it especially dangerous among at-risk groups, including the elderly and the obese. In extreme cases, COVID-19 can lead to severe respiratory illnesses, kidney failure, and even death.

Examining the Link Between Obesity and COVID-19

Even early on during the coronavirus pandemic, many medical professionals noticed the correlation of being obese and being severely ill from COVID-19. Although the virus impacted countries worldwide, researchers have linked the large number of obese Americans with the rapid spread of the virus across our country’s communities. There’s also a link to the large number of COVID-related American deaths in relation to that of other countries. One recent study suggested the risk of death from COVID-19 increased by 40% among patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 35-40, with that number jumping to a staggering 90% for those with a BMI over 40.

Not only is an obese person more likely to contract the virus due to a weakened immune system, but they’re also more likely to experience severe complications from a coronavirus infection. When a person carries extra weight, it places additional stress on the body. For example, excess fat around the lungs makes it difficult for them to expand and for you to breathe. Obesity also causes chronic inflammation, which impacts the body’s ability to fight off viruses. The complications also don’t stop once a person becomes hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment. It’s often too difficult for obese patients to lie on their stomachs to breathe, meaning an obese patient is more likely to be put on a ventilator. They may also face limitations when a coronavirus vaccine finally hits the market.

Understanding Coronavirus Vaccines and Their Limitations

For everyone eagerly awaiting the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s no secret that vaccines are often not as effective for obese people as they are for the general population. Previous vaccines for influenza, tetanus, rabies, and hepatitis B show this stark reality. Researchers believe this is due to an obese person’s impaired immune system not being activated correctly for the vaccine to work. Evidence suggesting obese people have a less successful immune response to vaccines was first observed in a 1985 study involving hospital employees and hepatitis B vaccines. Studies have also indicated vaccines may not be as effective in older adults, meaning two of the most vulnerable groups for developing COVID-19 complications may continue to be at risk.

Losing Weight Is Your Best Defense Against Coronaviruses

Although maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing a mask in public are good defenses against coronaviruses, one of the best things you can do is improve your general health. Eating a sensible diet, finding ways to stay active, and investing more time into discovering healthy stress reduction techniques are all essential. If you’re severely obese, perhaps it’s also time to explore your weight loss surgery options. Weight loss is one of the best ways to get healthy and decrease your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, heart disease, and complications caused by coronaviruses. If your BMI is over 40, the best way to achieve significant weight loss may be through bariatric surgery. If you’re interested in exploring bariatric procedures in Millburn, NJ, please contact Garden State Bariatrics to set up a consultation. We also urge you to sign up for our newsletters, explore our educational resources, including our blogs, and check out our patient success stories and galleries.

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