This post will attempt to answer the following questions:
- What is the biggest risk factor for dying of COVID-19 that is being overlooked?
- How can you protect yourself from dying in future pandemics?
From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the public health authorities have worked to identify who has the highest risk of dying. This is a vital part of any epidemic response because it allows finite public health resources to be directed to where the most lives can be saved. It became clear early on, that those with compromised immune systems and those who were older were at the highest risk of dying. This was not surprising to anyone as it is true of most infections.
This pandemic is remarkable not only in the rate of spread of the virus but also of the rate of new information that is coming out. It seems that the understanding of the virus and its epidemiology are changing almost daily. Since the virus has spread so quickly and has been so deadly, decisions have by necessity been made without the luxury of time. That time usually allows for collection of more data and more analysis to verify and justify the conclusions that are reached. Because we do not have that luxury, experts have been forced to act on imperfect information. This unavoidable leads to mistakes that will need to be corrected as more data comes in and more certain conclusions can be reached.
The problem our society has in this day and age, is that the news media does not portray information with uncertainty. They report imperfect and incomplete information as if it was conclusive facts even when the data is inclusive which leads to great confusion.
People also tend to go to extremes in their interpretation of the information. Those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems will be convinced they are going to die if they contract the virus, and the young and healthy will assume that they have no risk. Both of them would be wrong.
In this case, the information about increasing age and compromised immune systems increasing risk has not been controverted but a group of people who have a significantly increased risk of dying has been overlooked. Evidence has accrued that New Orleans has a death rate three times higher than New York. It has become clear that obesity is playing a major role in the deaths. That could be a warning sign for the United States and other western countries where chronic obesity is more common than other parts of the world.
It has become clear that obesity is playing a role in the deaths.
It is not clear if it is the excess weight itself or the conditions associated with the weight (namely diabetes), but it is clear that the association is strong. There is also a good reason to believe why this would be true. Obesity and obesity related conditions have a strong impact on the immune system. They also impact the heart, and it is known that sudden cardiac death is happening with alarming frequency – many people are dying at home suddenly and are not being captured in the statistics.
The scary thing about obesity as a risk factor for death is that it leads to the death of young and old alike. I have personally seen a situation where a mother and daughter died in the same week from COVID-19; Both were obese and diabetic. Older people have a higher risk but young people are dying of this as well and obesity may be the reason.
The scary thing about obesity as a risk factor for death is that it leads to the death of young and old alike.
There is obviously not enough time to lose a significant amount of weight to ameliorate the risk from this pandemic, but it is likely that there will be another pandemic in the future. It may be a year or a decade from now, but those bats are carrying this stuff in a cave somewhere and it’s only a matter of time before it jumps to humans again. We’ve had 3 major coronavirus outbreaks in the past 17 years not to mention a pandemic flu as well. When the next one comes, the best way to protect yourself is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight. You can’t make yourself younger, but you can make yourself thinner.
Since you’re stuck at home now, why don’t you start an exercise routine today? This is not a thing to do tomorrow. The sign in the bar window said “Free beer tomorrow” and was there every day. The same is true for “l’ll exercise tomorrow”. It applies every day. You’ve got to be sick of Netflix by now anyways. It’s time for your home school to get a daily PE class. You can read this article for suggestions on how to get started.