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US researchers find link between obesity and COVID-19 complications

Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2020. 9:37 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) say that they have discovered a link between obesity and COVID-19 complications, reports Caribbean News.net.

The researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health examined the available literature published on COVID-19 patients and concluded that those with obesity (having a Body Mass Index {BMI} of over 30) were at a significantly higher risk for hospitalization (113 percent), were more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (74 percent) and had a higher risk of death (48 percent) from the virus.

The researchers compiled their findings into a paper in which they use immunological and biomedical data to provide a detailed layout of how obesity increases the likelihood of developing more severe complications from COVID-19.

The researchers note that changes to the body’s metabolism brought on by obesity, such as insulin resistance and inflammation, make it difficult for those with obesity to fight infections like influenza, because immune cell functions are impaired.

“All of these factors can influence immune cell metabolism, which determines how bodies respond to pathogens, like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus,” says co-author Melinda Beck, professor of nutrition at Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Individuals with obesity are also more likely to experience physical ailments that make fighting this disease harder, such as sleep apnea, which increases pulmonary hypertension, or a body mass index that increases difficulties in a hospital setting with intubation.”

Notably, obesity is already documented as a major risk factor for various non communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

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