COVID-19: Obesity

There are no official numbers but I bet, obesity numbers have increased many folds because of this pandemic! Most people are inside their homes, working from homes and not working at all! And most of these are just eating and watching depressing news everyday! Some of them have found an excuse not to exercise or workouts.

Although this pandemic is something that was not asked for and something that has stagnated the entire world, we cannot afford to grow obese! America was already suffering with about 40% obese population because of which diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and other serous diseases like Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc have been on the rise. Now with Corona pandemic, it’s up to us to take our nation towards more obesity or better health! Give it a thought! Why? Continue reading till the end! And if you feel like making a difference, pass it on, as a word of wisdom to a friend of yours.

Obesity is found to be one of the major risk factors associated with COVID-19 symptoms and complications. It can cause severe illness and even deaths. There has been a series of evidences supporting this observation. Irrespective of whether they have cardiovascular complications or not, obesity is still considered a risk for corona infection. Let’s dig deeper and understand obesity and how does it relate to COVID-19! What’s diabetes and other CV diseases like hypertension to do with COVID-19!

Source: Getty Images

What is obesity?

For a lot of people, obesity is just about being “fat”. It’s actually more than that. Even “non-fat” looking people can be obese too! Yes, as per guidelines, anyone whose BMI is greater than 30 is obese. But again, the BMI is calculated based on weight and height. Weight might be due to muscles and not fat in which case, you may not be obese. That’s why I suggest you should get this verdict from your doctor and not just internet. Here is something from CDC:

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

Obesity is frequently subdivided into categories:

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to < 40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher. Class 3 obesity is sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity.

Class 3 or severe obesity is considered risky for COVID-19. The reason behind this might be inability to breathe properly. People with obesity are more likely to have higher resistance in their airways, lower lung volumes, and weaker respiratory muscles, which are critical in the defense against COVID-19. These factors make an individual more likely to develop pneumonia, and they place additional stress on the heart.

Also, fat cells stimulate inflammatory cells more than other cells. So, addition of corona virus further adds inflammatory load. Lastly, it has been found that fat cells have more ACE2 receptors, the ones on which COVID-19 binds to enter human cells.

This risk is particularly relevant in the U.S. because the prevalence of obesity is around 40%, compared to a prevalence of about 6% in China and 20% in Italy. (Source:

According to an article in Medical News Today,

Obesity is also associated with diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, all of which likewise increase the risk of developing pneumonia.

Setting these issues aside, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and prediabetes could make people more susceptible to infection, the authors point out.

Diabetes: predictor of severe infection

As the lead author of the study, Dr. Norbert Stefan, of the German Center for Diabetes Research, explained to Medical News Today:

“There is data emerging showing that hyperglycemia [high levels of glucose in the blood], even in the range where diabetes cannot be diagnosed, is a strong and independent predictor of a severe course of COVID-19,”

What should we do:

Source: Paul Green/Unsplash
  • Know your numbers- find out your BMI. Your doctor should be able to determine your accurate BMI during your routine visit. CDC has a BMI calculator that you can use as an option:
  • Be active- Just because we are under lockdowns, don’t be ridden by sofa or bed. It’s found that people are not exercising at all because of lockdowns. We don’t have to go to gyms to do basic physical exercise. We can walk, run, jog, play in our backyards or terraces or community walkways. Not only will this improve our health and keep us in shape but also our children will follow us and stay healthy. Otherwise, binge watching Netflix or playing PS-4 for hours and hours can literally cost our health.
  • Prevent Diabetes or manage it well to percent Obesity, CV complications, other complications and COVID infection! Download a user friendly app like Glucocious which not only educates on several aspects of diabetes management and prevention but also allows you to consult a pharmacist “live”! Here are the links for IOS and Android:


Finally, have a positive frame of mind and work on your fitness. Stay fit and live a happy, healthy life. Corona will pass by and good times will come back!

Published by Glucocious

The goal of “Pharmacist4U” blog channel “Over the Counter” is to create a social awareness of the several issues related to drugs, treatments and the healthcare system, overall. Our dream is to reach millions of patients out there who may have questions or concerns regarding their treatments, medications, costs or resources for help. We promise to find you the best solution or resolution through our blogs. If needed, a personal consultation can also be arranged to provide our readers with the help they need.

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