Obesity may triple your risk of hospitalisation from Covid!

If you had any doubt that being overweight or obese increases your risk of severe Covid infection, recent research findings provides significant proof.

A direct link has been found between Body Fat and Covid infection. This could explain obesity’s link to severe Covid, ie why obese or overweight people are more vulnerable to severe Covid-19.

Since the early days of the pandemic it was clear that obesity significantly increased the risk of hospitalisation from the disease. But scientists haven’t understood why.
Now there may be answers.

Obesity-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can independently raise the risk of severe Covid-19, but scientists now have evidence that body fat in itself may be a significant contributing factor.

Here are some of the findings from recent studies (still to be peer reviewed):

-The coronavirus can directly infect fat cells. That process, in turn, may activate a harmful cascade of inflammation that damages other organs, such as the heart or lungs. (Stanford University study, October 2021)

-The fat itself may actually become a reservoir for the virus and somehow be involved in its inflammatory response. (Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)

-In one study, researchers collected samples of fat tissue from people about to undergo surgery, then exposed that tissue to the coronavirus. Not only did those fat cells become infected with the coronavirus, but the virus also infected certain macrophages (immune cells that can trigger inflammation) in and around the fat tissue.

-The researchers noticed a dramatic inflammatory response shortly after the infection took hold, including an increase in several inflammatory molecules associated with severe Covid-19.

-In another study, the researchers studied tissue samples from people in Europe who had died of Covid-19 and found the coronavirus had made its way into patients’ fat tissue. Strikingly, virus concentrations in fat tissue samples were similar to concentrations in heart and kidney samples, though lower than concentrations in lung samples.

The researchers also theorized that obesity could contribute to long Covid, a condition characterized by persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, body aches, chest pain, or shortness of breath, that last weeks or months after a coronavirus infection.

Researchers have come to understand body fat as an active tissue rather than an inert mass:
“If you really are very obese, fat is the biggest single organ in your body,” (David Kass, professor of cardiology at Johns Hopkins, The New York Times)

Since obese and overweight people have more body fat, their fat cells could give the coronavirus more opportunities to replicate or promote inflammation.

This gives plenty of support to the notion that being overweight of obese dramatically increases a person’s Covid risk profile. The time to act to reduce that risk is now.

– adapted from “The coronavirus can infect body fat, new research suggests — a clue about obesity’s link to severe Covid, Business Insider, by Aria Bendix, Erin Schumaker, December 10, 2021.