“I have been writing about the importance of losing weight, if you have a large waist and raised blood sugars, for years. As well as weight loss, I’ve also written about good gut health, intermittent fasting, ways of reducing stress and getting better sleep. And one of the threads linking all my work has been the way these lifestyle changes will not only shrink your waistline but also bolster your immunity.”
Dr Mosley says that while being overweight doesn’t increase your risk of catching the virus if you are exposed to it, being obese does make you twice as likely to end up in intensive care with life-threatening complications if you do catch it.
Three quarters of the people who die from Covid-19 are overweight or obese, which is worrying news for the estimated two thirds of the UK population who are heavier than they should be.
5 reasons why Covid-19 is so much worse if you are overweight
You have less space to breathe
Any excess fat around the neck and airway and the extra weight on the chest hinders breathing, making very heavy people more vulnerable to complications straight away. The more overweight you are, the lower your lung capacity so, if Covid-19 attacks your lungs then you are more likely to end up in intensive care.
You’re more likely to have raised blood sugar levels or type 2 diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes (where your blood sugars are raised but not yet in the diabetic range) are more prone to all forms of infection. That’s because raised blood sugar unleashes destructive molecules which interfere with the body’s natural infection-control defences.
You are more likely to have metabolic syndrome
If you have a large waist you are more likely to have dangerous ‘visceral fat’ in your abdomen and this can lead to a host of conditions, which include raised blood sugar levels, elevated blood pressure and abnormal levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood which together form a toxic cluster called ‘metabolic syndrome’.
This elevates your risk of dying from Covid-19 ten-fold. That is worrying for the 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 in the UK, Australia and the UK who have metabolic syndrome. Many of them don’t even know they have it.
You are likely to have damaged arteries
People with raised blood sugar levels also tend to have extensive damage to their blood vessels. Covid-19 attacks your blood vessels and also causes increased formation of blood clots, and if your blood vessels are already damaged through long-term raised blood sugar levels or too much fat in the blood, this can put you at risk of heart attack or stroke.
Your immune system is likely to struggle
Not only will an immune system weakened by excess weight be unable to mount a strong enough defence to stop the coronavirus replicating itself throughout your body, but it is more likely to over-react under pressure, causing ‘collateral damage’ to healthy tissue. This can lead to organ failure and even death.