COVID-19 contributed to the deaths of over 200,000 Americans during the first several months of 2020. The CDC predicts 5,000 additional deaths per week for at least the next few months. Regrettably, many of these COVID-19 deaths were preventable through weight loss.
We now know that those with a BMI over 30 (the obese) have an 80% higher risk of ending up in the ICU from COVID-19 than those of normal weight. In fact, obesity seems to be the primary preventable risk factor for dying from COVID-19, and that will likely not change, even with a vaccine.
There are 3 reasons why losing weight now can be crucial for avoiding unnecessary COVID-19 complications and possible death.
1. Obesity reduces immunity to COVID-19… weight loss helps!
Those with obesity have a hard time fighting off infections! That holds true for influenza, COVID-19, various other viruses, and bacteria. Obesity impairs the immune function, increasing risks from COVID-19.
Some of the impaired immune function is likely due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies which are very common in those with obesity. However, obesity itself plays a role, causing things like impaired natural killer cells and lymphocytes, as well as a lowered antibody response.
2. Obesity aggravates COVID-19 inflammation and the “Cytokine Storm”… weight loss helps!
Deaths from COVID-19 are related to excess inflammation of lungs and other tissues, sometimes referred to as a “cytokine storm”. Unfortunately, excess inflammation is already present in the obese. The body is supposed to turn inflammation on and off when needed to fight infection or deal with damaged tissues. Unfortunately, those with obesity have chronic inflammation, which never shuts off.
In our patients, we’ve seen that with losing weight and taking proper nutritional supplements, CRP (a measure of inflammation) typically drops by 50% or more. Lowering abnormal inflammation in the body through weight loss is recommended prior to a possible COVID-19 infection. Waiting until tissue has been damaged from a cytokine storm is, unfortunately, too late.
3. Vaccines don’t work well in the obese… weight loss helps!
Scientists have known for some time that vaccines against influenza and other viral infections are less effective in those who are obese. For example, obese adults are twice as likely as healthy weight individuals to develop influenza after the flu vaccine. Researchers believe this will be true of COVID-19 vaccines as well. Even if a vaccine is approved in the near future, the protection provided for the obese will likely prove disappointing.
For the obese, declines in vaccine-induced antibody levels occur within a few months for hepatitis, tetanus, and rabies. Likely the same will be true for any COVID-19 vaccine. Be advised, waiting for a vaccine is NOT the answer. Overweight individuals will have the hardest time achieving and maintaining immunity with a vaccine!
Remember, the body is very forgiving. If you are overweight, losing weight can improve immunity, lower inflammation, and prevent unnecessary complications from COVID-19. Even a few pounds of weight loss can calm inflammation, likely lowering your risks.
If you’ve been gaining weight in recent months, get those pounds off NOW, it’s never been more important! Remember, if you’ve gained unwanted weight, getting assistance is easy, just schedule a free consultation to meet with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff by clicking HERE. There has likely never been a more important time to lose excess body weight!
All of us are concerned with COVID-19 and the deadly impact it is having across our nation. However, honoring and supporting our health and immune system is always the right thing to do, regardless of current events.
For Optimum Health!
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M.
P.S. – Have you gained weight in recent months? If you need a personal treatment plan for chronic overweight or to improve your nutrition, learn more at taguenutrition.com.
We have over 25 years of experience assisting overweight individuals in their pursuit of weight loss and health. Let our experience with over 30,000 patients losing well over 500,000 lbs go to work for you. Call us for a free initial consultation to learn more.