Obesity may increase your risk of severe COVID-19

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In two new studies, researchers found that obesity may put even younger people at higher risk of more severe COVID-19 and increase the death risk.

They suspect that inflammation throughout the body linked to obesity could be a powerful factor in the severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

And it could even be stronger than heart or lung disease.

The research was conducted by a team at NYU.

Though people under age 60 are generally considered at low risk for COVID-19, the team found that those who are obese are twice as likely to be hospitalized for the disease.

And, compared to patients whose weight is normal, those who are morbidly obese are twice as likely to need acute care and three times more likely to be confined to the intensive care unit, the study found.

Though patients studied were obese, none had diabetes or heart disease, Lighter said, but they might be on the verge of them.

The team says obese people have higher rates of obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, restrictive lung disease reflux that may be affecting the respiratory system, which takes a hit from an infection like coronavirus.

Younger people who are obese are at high risk. So, they should be reminded to wash hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a face mask when they go out.

The second study suggested the link with obesity may owe to its role in causing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a factor in many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

According to the team, age and prior health status are important predictors of the risks of severe coronavirus infection and death.

Basing analyses only on those people with symptoms severe enough to warrant medical attention is not sufficient.

Older age, obesity and chronic illness increase health risks in this pandemic, the team says, calling for national policies that support a “stay safe and get healthier” campaign.

Meanwhile, anything people can do to improve their health while in lockdown might pay big dividends.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Jennifer Lighter, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

The study is published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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