As we move further into the phased reopening of Bermuda and now into Phase 4, A New Normal, there are steps we can take to help stay as healthy as possible. We are pleased to work with the expert team at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to bring you a series of helpful articles on managing your health during this time.
Since COVID-19 came onto the healthcare scene in early 2020, researchers have been learning about how the novel coronavirus spreads and which patients are most likely to develop complications. People with excess weight often have other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea (trouble breathing well when they sleep). These other factors raise the chance of having severe COVID-19 when someone contracts the coronavirus.
The prevalence of obesity is increasing rapidly in Bermuda, and this epidemic has become the number one public health challenge.
“Bermuda is one of the world’s most obese jurisdictions,” with the STEPS to a Well Bermuda Survey 2014 finding that “34.4% or one out of every three adults in Bermuda is obese.”
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If you or someone you love is struggling with excess weight, you may have questions about the link between excess weight and COVID-19 and how you can take better care of yourself during this challenging time. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital understands your concerns. Below are the latest updates to help you better understand obesity and COVID-19 and steps you can take to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, even though you may be limiting your time out of your home.
To help you take the first steps in achieving your weight loss goals, the physicians and dietitians at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital want to share some simple and delicious recipes which you can request here.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT EXCESS WEIGHT AND COVID-19
A number of recent studies have linked obesity to more severe COVID-19, even in those with no other health problems. For example, preliminary data reported in April 2020 by NewYork-Presbyterian investigators identified obesity as a risk factor for hospital admission. Among 393 adults with COVID-19 treated at two NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals, half of those under age 54 had obesity, compared with an overall obesity rate of only 22 percent in all of New York City. Another preliminary study of more than 4,000 people with COVID-19 treated over one month at another hospital system also found that obesity was a significant predictor of poor outcome, reporting that people with obesity (especially those with a BMI greater than 40) were:
A preliminary study of more than 4,000 people with COVID-19 treated over one month at another hospital system also found that obesity was a significant predictor of poor outcome, reporting that people who were obese (especially those with a BMI greater than 40) were:
- Twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital for care
- Even more likely to require critical care, such as ventilation
- More likely to die from COVID-19
Similar findings have been reported in studies done by researchers in the southern United States and those in France and China.
HOW MIGHT OBESITY INCREASE THE RISK OF SEVERE COVID-19 ILLNESS?
While it's too soon to know exactly why people with obesity fare worse with COVID-19 than those at a healthy weight, it is believed that chronic inflammation may play a role. In COVID-19, researchers have shown that elevated levels of proteins signaling the presence of inflammation ("inflammatory markers") were among the top signs predicting that a patient's condition could become critical. And obesity promotes inflammation. The inflammatory markers tend to be higher in people with obesity at baseline due to higher amounts of stored fat. Scientists are continuing to study additional underlying factors linking obesity to more severe COVID-19 to learn more about this relationship.
CONNECT WITH A WEIGHT MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST
Even though life right now is anything but usual, it's actually a great time to take control of your weight. Whether you are a new patient or an existing NewYork-Presbyterian patient, their weight management experts are available to help and are either in-person or virtual visits to start you on your way.
If you are worried about your weight management, please contact the specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian. If you want to arrange an appointment with a local specialist to discuss further, please contact the team at CORE Heart Health Centre.
Read our previous article in this series on Diabetes Management during COVID-19, and look for our next article where we share guidance on how you can achieve you weight goals and improve your health (coming soon).
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*Correction: Updated July 27 to include CORE Heart Health as the local specialists for contact. We originally listed Bermuda Diabetes Association in the copy which was a mistake.