Don't delay care: Obesity contributes to many serious conditions — including COVID-19

September 25, 2020

Wellness During COVID-19 Wellness
Doctor takes obese patient's temperature

Research shows that people with COVID-19 who are obese require hospitalization and intensive care more than people with COVID-19 who aren’t obese.

Obesity is having excess fat or being at an unhealthy weight for your height. It’s a common condition in the United States. In 2018, nearly 43% of adults in the U.S. had obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eating a diet with more calories than your body uses along with too much saturated and trans fats or added sugars can cause someone to develop obesity. But other risk factors are also involved, including:

  • Sitting too much
  • Having chronic stress
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not having access to healthy foods, parks or recreational facilities for socioeconomic or community-planning reasons
  • Having a family history of obesity
  • Having a disease or taking a medication that causes weight gain

“For most, obesity is multifactorial, which means several factors work together to cause it,” explains Aida Atiq, M.D., primary care physician Riverside Medical Care Center - Mercury West.

Even though it’s become quite normal for most Americans to carry extra weight, Dr. Atiq says this shouldn’t make us turn a blind eye to the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese.

“Normalizing obesity is dangerous. The data show us the condition is clearly linked to other serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, depression, and the list goes on,” Dr. Atiq says. “And now we’ve added COVID-19 to the list.”

How to find out if you have obesity – and what to do next

The screening tool used to calculate obesity is called body mass index, a calculation using your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. If you have a reliable bathroom scale and measuring tape at home, you can input your weight in pounds and height in inches into an online calculator to determine your BMI.

“You can also learn your BMI during your annual primary care checkup,” Dr. Atiq adds.

Anyone who has a BMI of 30 or greater has obesity and needs to work with their primary care provider on an achievable weight-loss program to prevent further health problems.

How to protect yourself during this pandemic

Catching the new coronavirus is a serious concern for anyone with obesity since they can have impaired immune function and decreased lung capacity. Obesity increases the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and triples the risk of hospitalization.

If you have obesity, continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself from the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others – keep at least a 6-foot distance.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and immediately wash your hands afterward.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Monitor your health daily, staying aware of COVID-19 symptoms.

“Also, get some physical activity and eat a healthy diet every day. These things don’t just help you lose weight; they strengthen your immune system,” says Dr. Atiq.

Another good reason not to delay your weight-loss journey.

When to know if COVID-19 symptoms need medical attention

If you get sick with COVID-19, call your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • A fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • A persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue that keeps you in bed

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have:

  • Constant trouble breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Blue lips or face

“Pandemic or not, don’t put off talking to your doctor about how you can lose weight and get healthier,” advised Dr. Atiq. 

Call Dr. Atiq today to begin your journey toward curing obesity.

 

Related:

Learn more about Riverside Medical Care Center - Mercury West 
Primary Care 
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