‘Obesity, nutritional status and COVID-19’ – Carel Le Roux
Posted On: 31st July 2020
Prof Carel le Roux, Diabetes Complications Research Centre, University College Dublin, Ireland
People with obesity are one of the high risk groups to develop severe illness from COVID-19. Several diseases have been associated with COVID-19 hospitalizations but consistently the severity of COVID-19 corelates with BMI. Obesity increases the risk of developing severe pneumonia in COVID-19 patients and has been associated with a higher probability of mortality. Prospective observational cohort study of 16,749 hospitalised UK patients with COVID-19 showed that obesity is a specific risk factor for COVID- related mortality. This has also been confirmed in 177,133 subjects analysed from Mexico.
The association between COVID-19 and obesity has several potential mechanisms explaining the more severe complications. This includes the compromised lung function in people with obesity, combined with increased levels of chronic inflammation. The situation is however often made worse by obesity-related complications such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The impact of COVID-19 on everyday life and treatment of people with obesity can not be underestimated, especially now that it is understood that people living with obesity are not at increased risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2 and developing COVID-19, but that obesity is one of the most prevalent diseases among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. People with obesity are thus at a higher risk of complications and adverse outcomes of COVID-19, as well as higher risk for hospitalization and critical care admission.
In conclusion, obesity is one of the most prevalent background diseases in patients with COVID-19. Obesity causes higher risk of complications and adverse outcomes from COVID-19 and also causes higher risk for hospitalization and critical care admission from COVID-19. The current pandemic has highlighted that obesity not only increases the risk for long-term complications, it also increases the risk for acute complications and severe outcomes from infectious disease like COVID-19. The health crisis that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the need for making obesity a healthcare priority. Providing access to obesity care will reduce the burden on people with obesity, healthcare systems and societies.
Professor Carel le Roux (MBChB, MSC, FRCP, FRCPath, PhD) graduated from medical school in Pretoria South Africa, completed his Senior House Officer training at Barts and The London Hospital, his SpR training in metabolic medicine at the Hammersmith Hospitals and his PhD at Imperial College London. He was appointed as Senior Lecturer in 2006, promoted to Reader in 2009 at Imperial and accepted a Chair as Head of Pathology at University College Dublin in 2011. He received the President of Ireland Young Researcher Award from science Foundation Ireland, a Clinician Scientist Award from the National Institute Health Research in the UK and a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellowship amongst others.
Total Diet & Meal Replacements Europe (TDMR Europe)’s webinar, ‘Reducing future risk: Obesity co-morbidities and nutritional status’, attracted over 100 academics, policymakers and medical specialists from all over the world.
The webinar, which had been awarded SCOPE World Obesity Federation accreditation, highlighted the use of total diet replacements to reduce future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and diminish severe outcomes in COVID-19 among at-risk subgroups within populations. The speakers discussed a range of diverse and challenging topics, including obesity, nutritional status and COVID-19, TDR to achieve diabetes remission and diabetes risk reduction, TDR and vitamin D status in elderly obese people with knee osteoarthritis, and research needs and translation into practice in the context of diabetes remission.
TDMR Europe represents the voice of European manufacturers and distributors of formula diet products, including Total Diet Replacements (TDRs) and Meal Replacement Products (MRPs), that provide weight loss and weight management programmes for overweight and obese individuals.
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