By Shermain Bique-Charles
If people are overweight or obese, their chances of hospitalisation or dying from Covid-19 seem to be much higher.
A study performed by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, has confirmed that obesity significantly increases the risk for hospitalisation and death among those who contract the virus.
The findings showed that in about 78 percent of people who were hospitalised, placed on ventilators or died from Covid-19, were overweight or obese, the risk of severe Covid-19 illness rises sharply, especially for younger than 65.
Medical professionals in Antigua and Barbuda have been sounding the alarm that people with underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill by the coronavirus.
But now, those who are overweight and obese have been added to that pool, since people of average weight or those considered “slim” also suffer from underlying conditions and chronic non-communicable diseases.
Jeremy Deazle, the resident doctor on Barbuda agreed and explained that for obese patients, the immune and respiratory systems, as well as organs crucial to fighting Covid are already compromised, making it an uphill battle at the first cough.
“Obesity is definitely one of the underlying conditions relating to Covid-19 deaths. Obesity is already a disease by itself and puts a strain on the heart, kidney, liver. When you get Covid, it puts more strain on the organs that can lead to multiple organ failure,” he added.
Dr Deazle said obesity should be tackled at an early age and for those who are already showing signs of the condition, it must be managed properly.
“We can start as early as health education through schools, promote certain diets. The world we are living in, fast foods is promoted and I do not see promotion of healthy foods,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a doctor who works at Dr Ravi and Associates explained that obese people are also prone to malnutrition which impairs their immune response.
He said the best measures they can follow at this time to protect themselves is to follow public health guidelines such as frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask.
Also, they can take multivitamins, he said.
“If they do suffer from any underlying illnesses they should follow the treatment guidelines established by their doctor and take their medication regularly. I would also recommend that they comply with follow ups established by their doctors,” the medical practitioner explained.
Diet is also another important factor that can assist people who are overweight, he said.
“They need to eat less carbohydrates; less bread. They need to avoid red meat and drink more water. Adding a lot of vegetables and exercising for at least an hour indoors or outdoors is important too,” the doctor advised.