Science

Study finds losing weight can reduce risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19

A new study concluded that people can reduce their risk from COVID-19 by shedding a few pounds.

The Cleveland Clinic found that, among COVID-19 patients with obesity, weight loss via bariatric surgery was associated with a 60% reduction in risk of severe complications from the virus.

“Obesity weakens the immune system, creates a chronic inflammatory state, and increases risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and lung conditions. All of these conditions can complicate COVID-19,” the Clinic said in a press release.

The aim of this study was to examine whether a successful weight-loss intervention in patients with obesity prior to contracting COVID-19 could reduce the risk of developing a severe form of this disease.

“The research findings show that patients with obesity who achieved substantial and sustained weight loss with bariatric surgery prior to a COVID-19 infection reduced their risk of developing severe illness by 60 percent,” said Ali Aminian, M.D., lead author of the study and director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute.

“Our study provides strong evidence that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 that can be improved through a successful weight-loss intervention.”

A total of 20,212 adult patients with obesity were included in this observational study. A group of 5,053 patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater who had weight-loss surgery between 2004 and 2017 were carefully matched 1:3 to non-surgical patients, resulting in 15,159 control patients.

Compared with those in the non-surgical group, patients who had bariatric surgery lost 19% more body weight prior to March 1, 2020 (the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Cleveland).

American public health officials have suggested several interventions for reducing personal risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, from mask wearing to vaccination to avoiding large gatherings and changing the ventilation systems in houses. 

Publicly highlighting obesity as one of the biggest risk factors for severe COVID-19 from any public official has been rare, and even fewer have publicly told Americans to lose weight if they want to protect themselves from hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: EATTHIS.COM

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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