The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the world in unprecedented ways, especially for patients who have a variety of other chronic diseases, including obesity. In light of this fact, the editors of Obesity have authored an editorial titled “COVID 19 and the Patient with Obesity — the Editors Speak Out.”
In the editorial, the editors discuss the connection between COVID-19 and obesity and point out how people are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 by virtue of the increased risk of the chronic diseases that obesity drives. In addition, they note that obesity can also make it more difficult to treat the respiratory complications in an intensive care unit setting.
Older age and co-morbid disease have been reported as risk factors for death while the present European experience seems to indicate more and more severe cases among younger age groups. People with obesity around the world are already at high risk for severe complications of COVID-19. According to a study published on February 15, 2020, “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China” states that the prevalence of diabetes was 20% and of hypertension 30% in the first cases analyzed for risk factors for severe disease.
While China does not have the high incidence of obesity as that in the US when obesity is defined by BMI, China has been experiencing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, with prevalence rates similar to the US.
The editorial states that we are likely to see a collision of the two public health epidemics in the US with obesity and COVID-19 interacting to further strain our health system. Americans also have a high burden of class III obesity, with 9.2% of the population with a BMI >40 kg/m2. This has serious implications for our health care system because people with severe obesity who become ill and require intensive care present challenges in patient management – more bariatric hospital beds, more challenging intubations, more difficult to obtain imaging diagnosis, more difficult to position and transport by nursing staff. Special beds and positioning/transport equipment are available mostly in specialized bariatric surgery units but may not be widely available elsewhere in hospitals. It is important for obese patients to take extra precaution during this time and to follow the CDC’s guidelines to prevent getting sick since people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions including obesity may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.
The article also notes that COVID-19 has a psychological impact. People with obesity who are already self-isolating and avoiding social contact are already stigmatized and experiencing higher rates of depression. Social isolation is at the heart of obesity stigma. More than ever, our health care providers need to fight obesity stigma.
Find Support & Connect
With social distancing recommendations, it’s more important than ever to surround yourself with support and encouragement. Here at Bari Life we are launching Free LIVE online 30 minute exercise classes. Whether you are about to have bariatric surgery, had your bariatric surgery a few months ago or several years ago this specially-designed class will help you stay fit at home! You can stay connected with us through our facebook, instagram and blog as well.
Another reliable outlet you can use to chat virtually with other members of the bariatric community is available through the Obesity Action Coalition. They have a Discussion Forum for its members about topics and concerns that matter to you during this trying time. Over the next couple of weeks, they also plan to share plenty of health education on their blog to help you maintain healthy habits related to weight management, exercise, nutrition and mental health at home. We find their latest blog post to be especially helpful right now – “Finding Balance and Maintaining Health with a Disrupted Routine.”
You can also chat with members of the bariatric community through the organization Obesity Help. They provide another great forum for you to connect directly with members. They also have a nice new article regarding the difficult time COVID-19 has put on our society – “Self-Care and Hope During Times of Crisis.”
Bari Life is here to help you through these uncertain and unprecedented times. From nutrition plans to workout routines, we have the tools to help you stay active and healthy at home. We are in this together and we will come through this time stronger than ever as both a community and a nation.
How Are You Keeping Balance?
- What are you doing to add structure to your day?
- How are you managing stress?
- What self-care practices do you find especially helpful?
We’d love for you to share your comments and see how others are trying to find balance during these uncertain times when routines are different.