When two pandemics happen at the same time! Obesity and COVID-19
Viral or Bacterial pandemic
2020 has been a very different year. We got hit by the COVID-19 pandemic! We had all heard about the Black Plague pandemic in the 14th Century and the Spanish Flu pandemic 1918-1920. These pandemics are caused by a virus or bacteria (Black Plague)
The obesity pandemic
The other pandemic I would like to mention is the ‘Obesity pandemic’. This pandemic is a new phenomenon that started to develop after the second world war through the rise of processed food and the more sedentary lifestyle that we are living now. Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975
Health consequences of being overweight
The common health consequences of being overweight and obesity are high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels which can result in heart disease and stroke. Another very common consequence is insulin insensitivity which is the precursor of Type 2 diabetes.
On top of that, several cancers (like breast, bowel, liver etc) are more prevalent in obese people.
We are sure the risk is real as the more weight is gained, the more issues arise.
What causes these health consequences of an obese person
Visceral adipose tissue (fat tissue around the abdomen) is metabolic active tissue. It is no longer considered just fat deposit but it is one of the largest endocrine organs that produce bioactive factors called adipokines. These adipokines include cytokines which are pro-inflammatory factors. One of them is fibrinogen (which helps with blood clotting). On the other hand, fat tissue will also produce extra hormones like leptin and angiotensinogen (influences blood pressure). What I am trying to say is that these inflammatory factors produced in fat tissue are the cause of many western diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
What happens when an obese person becomes infected with COVID?
This visceral fat tissue can also acts as a reservoir for the COVID virus because these fat cells are rich in receptors that the COVID virus recognises and enters these fat cells easily. Then the fat cells will release more inflammatory factors which can result in a cytokine storm (lots of pro-inflammatory compounds). This can cause inflammation through the whole body (systemic) which is similar to sepsis.
Blood viscosity is increased in obese people
As more cytokines are produced in obese people, more clotting factors (like fibrinogen) are produced as well. This thickens the blood and yields micro-vascular damage in the alveoli (in the lungs) and as a result we cannot circulate blood through the lungs so the blood can’t get oxygenated as easily. If many alveoli are damaged, then the patient has to go onto ventilation.
So the reason that overweight and obese people are more likely to get very ill when infected by COVID-19 is because they get the accumulation of different inflammatory factors coming from adipose fat tissue in combination with the production of inflammatory factors by the immune system to ward off the virus…
Losing weight will bring inflammation down. Do contact me if you like more personalised advice and support to bring your weight down.