Doctors studying why obesity can be tied to severe COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) – Early in the epidemic, doctors noticed something about seriously ill people with COVID-19: many were obese.

The link became more apparent as coronovirus swept across the world and data was mounted, and researchers are still trying to figure out why.

Overweight increases the chances of developing many health problems including heart disease and diabetes. And they are among the conditions that can make COVID-19 patients very likely to be ill.

But there is some evidence that obesity itself may increase the likelihood of serious complications from a coronovirus infection. A study Among the more than 5,200 infected people, 35% of whom were obese, found that the likelihood of hospitalization increased for those with a higher BMI, even taking into account other conditions that might put them at risk Huh.

Scientists are still studying the factors that may be at play – the way obesity affects the immune system may be one – but say this is another one of the epidemic that highlights current public health challenges Is the example.

Researchers said obesity may be a reason why some countries or communities have been hit hard by the virus. In the United States, the rate of obesity among adults has climbed for decades and is now 42%. The rate is even higher among Blacks and Hispanic Americans.

A person who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall is believed to start with a body mass index of about 190 pounds or 30. The increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease appears to be more pronounced with extreme obesity or BMI of 40 or more. .

Researchers say several factors potentially make it harder for people who are obese to fight coronovirus infections, which can damage the lungs. Lifting too much extra weight causes stress in the body, and excess fat can limit the lung’s ability to expand and breathe.

Another issue is chronic inflammation, which often comes with obesity. Inflammation is a natural way in which our bodies fight harmful intruders such as viruses. But long-lasting inflammation is not healthy and can weaken your body’s defenses if a real threat arises.

“It’s like putting gasoline on a smoldering fire,” said Dr., an obesity researcher and dean of Tufts University’s school of nutritional science and policy near Boston. Darish Mosferian said.

And even though those who are obese have not been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, Mozaffarian notes that their health may not be optimal.

How body fat is distributed can also play a role. One study found an increased risk for death from COVID-19 for people with severe obesity, but only in men. The findings suggest that men carry fat around the abdomen, said study co-author Sarah Tartof, who researches infectious diseases in Kaiser Permanente, Southern California. He said that this type of fat is more associated with the production of a hormone that can contribute to more serious illness.

Scientists are also finding out if there is anything specific about coronovirus that makes the obese susceptible to being very ill.

For example, the virus infects cells by attaching receptors to the surface of some cells. This receptor is abundant on fat cells and scientists are studying whether it makes them “a good nest for the virus”, Dr. Lily University of France. Said François Pattu, who has co-researched the link between obesity and severe. Kovid 19 disease.

Complications in care may arise once hospitalized. For example, to help with breathing, doctors are placing hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on their stomachs. But this can be difficult for obese people, making it more likely that they are placed on ventilators.

Dr. of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “He needs a machine to help him work as a co-author of a study on obesity and severe COVID-19 disease,” said David Kass.

Yet another concern: A COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective for the obese as it is with the flu and other vaccines.

Why this is so may not be known, but one possibility is that obesity enforces an aspect of the immune system that needs to activate vaccines to function, Drs. Said Nankey McKiver, who researches how immune system weight is affected at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And he said that whatever factors are in play would likely apply to a COVID-19 vaccine, but he said it was still important to get it.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Sciences has support from the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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