Obesity & COVID-19: The Major ConnectionArticle posted in: Success Stories - Men
Obesity can increase the risk of many diseases and health concerns. But did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now considers “severe obesity” to be a risk factor for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
We spoke with Nutrisystem Success Story, Georgia resident and researcher, Dr. Ken Nears, about his recent experience with COVID-19. “On March 7, 2020, I was exposed to COVID-19. Three to four days later, I started feeling very fatigued, had a loss of appetite and had constant headaches,” explains Ken.
Ken decided to self-quarantine and got tested for the virus, which came back positive. About a week later, his symptoms worsened and he experienced a fever and labored breathing. “I was so concerned, I made two trips to the emergency room. Around three weeks later, I was able to breathe and had my temperature back to normal.”
Since he contracted the virus in March, Ken was able to fully recover at home and is now feeling much better today. He even volunteered to donate his plasma to help those in need. “Now that I am totally recovered, I can think back to the month when I was ill and realize how very sick I was. I am grateful that I did not have to be hospitalized.”
Ken has his doctorate and has taught Research and Assessment classes at the graduate level. He has several published research articles and has written two research books. “I have a thirst for answers,” says Ken. This thirst for answers has led Ken to an interest in the connection between obesity and the coronavirus. He has passed along some evidence-based research that shows how obesity can exacerbate COVID-19:
Obesity and extra weight can cause problems with lung function. “Excess weight around the abdomen can compress the chest, making it more difficult for the diaphragm to move and the lungs to expand and take in air,” says Medical Xpress. This difficulty breathing, combined with the chronic inflammation caused by obesity, can lead to a decrease in blood oxygen and hinder the immune system.
According to the CDC, “Severe obesity increases the risk of a serious breathing problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a major complication of COVID-19 and can cause difficulties with a doctor’s ability to provide respiratory support for seriously ill patients.” It’s also common for those with obesity to have “multiple serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions” that can increase the risk of complications from COVID-19.
In addition, diagnosing, treating and caring for obese patients in a hospital setting can be difficult. “In general health systems are already not well set up to manage patients with obesity (as reported by our MAPPS study published in Clinical Obesity) and the current crisis will expose their limitations even more,” says the World Obesity Federation.
One UK study found that 75% of 6,720 COVID-19 patients in intensive care were either overweight or obese, says Medical Xpress, who cites several studies that highlight the connection between obesity and the coronavirus. According to John Hopkins University, “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.”
“I know that if I had not lost weight prior to getting COVID-19, my experience with the illness would have been much worse,” says Ken. He explains that it was difficult to expand his lungs and to catch his breath when he was sick. “In addition, I would have had the underlying conditions before my weight loss that could have cost me my life after getting COVID-19.”
Kens favorite part about Nutrisystem is that the food tastes good and he was not hungry on the plan. “The Nutrisystem plan is simple and it works. After losing the weight, it’s easy to maintain because Nutrisystem teaches you portion control,” says Ken. He explains that by contracting COVID-19 at his current, healthy weight, he did not experience any of the health complications for which he would have been at a higher risk for prior to his weight loss. “Nutrisystem may have saved my life!”
*Real Success Story. Expect to lose an avg 1-2 lbs per week.