Obesity and COVID: How Weight Loss Surgery Can Help

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If there’s one thing that’s been on everybody’s mind lately, it’s COVID-19. As of this writing, 175 million people worldwide have been infected. About 3.75 million people have died.

The statistics for the United States are just as grim: more than 33 million known cases and almost 600,000 deaths.

For many months in a row, even in the beginning when it was still referred to as SARS-CoV-2, the stats kept getting worse and worse. One might have thought that the COVID death toll from December 2020 (77,400) was about as bad as it could get.

But then January 2021 showed up.

And while masks, social distancing, and the advent of new and effective COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to get the disease under control in some countries, we’re still a long way from eradicating it from the world population.

COVID and Obesity

Despite COVID’s aggressiveness and the devastating death toll, most people are able to manage the infection. Still, it is crucial to remain vigilant, especially for certain members of society who are at increased risk of illness.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes, “Although most people who have COVID-19 have mild symptoms, COVID-19 can also cause severe illness and even death. Some groups, including older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness.”

One of those underlying conditions: obesity. And the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be especially damaging to “adults of any age” who suffer from obesity, according to the CDC. Obese patients “are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.” Even children who are obese are at risk of developing severe and sometimes fatal illnesses.

“Having obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) between 30 kg/m2 and <40 kg/m2 or severe obesity (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or above), increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” the CDC reports. “Having overweight, defined as a BMI > 25 kg/m2 but less than 30 kg/m2 might increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

Obesity, COVID, and Weight Loss Surgery

Of course, obesity presents patients with a long list of additional health risks. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and impaired immune function. Obesity may even lead to lower vaccine responses.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can help people suffering from obesity. Dieting and exercise are the most common ways for people to lose weight.

However, the key to long-term health is to lose weight and keep it off. This usually requires a commitment to eating healthy foods and physical activity for the rest of one’s life. Fad diets are usually not enough to sustain this type of health pattern.

For some people, however, even regular dieting, healthy eating, and exercise are not enough. For this subset of patients, there is the option of weight loss surgery.

Weight loss surgery can help people avoid some of the high-risk factors for severe COVID-19 including the risk of death.

Oregon Weight Loss Surgery

At Oregon Weight Loss Surgery, we feature one of the Pacific Northwest’s most experienced weight loss surgery programs. Our metabolic and bariatric surgery teams can help stem the negative tide of obesity, assisting patients in losing weight and making healthy choices for a lifetime.

This lifestyle change can go a long way toward avoiding COVID complications and contributing to better public health.

While no single procedure — or even a dramatic lifestyle change — is a foolproof way to avoid COVID or its complications, an overall focus on health and wellbeing can certainly help people get out of the higher risk category.

Get in touch with our team today to find out if weight loss surgery is right for you. Keep in mind that there is a difference between being overweight and obese.

In the meantime, follow the guidelines, wear a mask, stay socially distanced, and be safe out there. Please reach out if you have any questions about obesity and COVID-19.

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