What you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19 in order of importance:
- Stay at home.
- Practice social distancing of greater than six feet.
- Wash your hand every time after you touch something, or at least before you touch your face.
- Wear a mask when outside where others are.
- Wear protective eyewear when outside where others are.
- Lose weight if your BMI is greater than 30.
COVID-19 is yet another reason to lose weight, if ever you needed one, to add to the already long list of very bad things that I write about in The Fat Thief. The link between obesity and COVID-19 has been well established, which shouldn’t be surprising given that the co-morbidity of obesity is also associated with the metabolic syndrome that precedes diabetes type 2, diabetes type 2 itself, and cardiovascular heart disease. In addition, obesity is closely associated with obstructive sleep apnea and impaired pulmonary function.
Recent data from Louisiana demonstrate that 97% of those killed by COVID-19 had a pre-existing condition. Diabetes was seen in 40% of the deaths, obesity in 25%, chronic kidney disease in 23%, and cardiac disease in 21%. Data out of Britain showed that 2/3’s of patients admitted to critical care were overweight, and most of them had a BMI greater than 30.
This is what the numbers show—a majority of people who don’t do well suffer from being overweight or obese. I think it is difficult to separate out heart disease and diabetes from obesity as they already have a correlation, and why is that? Why are all these pre-existing conditions, or what you might call co-morbidities, so closely related? What is the common thread?
Inflammation. Inflammation is the common thread. It has long been known that obesity causes inflammation. The white adipose tissue (WAT) acts almost like a gland because the fat cells release pro-inflammatory mediators into the blood stream, and the larger the gland, the more mediators there are that are released. Over time, it is this chronic exposure to pro-inflammatory mediators that causes systemic inflammation and damage throughout the body.
As per my usual pattern of gross simplification, I will illustrate thusly: Obesity, or a large WAT gland is akin to a smoldering fire or an idling engine; it’s like you’re all revved up, and all you need is a gust of air or a heavy foot on the gas pedal, or an exposure to COVID-19, and suddenly you’re face to face with a forest fire, or off to the races, or in dire need of a ventilator. The sad reality, relative to COVID-19, is that even with a ventilator, there is still a mortality rate well in excess of 50% that approaches 90% with increase in age and number of pre-existing conditions.
Although losing weight is something I view as the long game, I am wondering if caloric restriction might have a more immediate effect that precedes the actual weight-loss. I do not know for sure; however, I did find some studies that suggest that may be the case; here and here. It is my feeling that some caloric restriction, as encountered with a lifestyle change similar to my program defined in The Fat Thief, would likely have a positive impact in the short-term and most assuredly a positive impact in the long-term.
The good news is that, for many in quarantine, there should be some disposable time for reading and reflection towards the goal of changing your thoughts and thereby changing your world in regard to lifestyle changes and losing weight. The bad news is that, for many in quarantine, there is disposable time for which the only thing to so might seem to be watching Netflix and eating, continuously. Obviously, there needs to be a balance, there needs to be the exertion of some self-control; however, with the ever-present threat of poor health and the virus, perhaps your id and superego just might overcome the impulsive drive of your inner baby (what I call the id) to satisfy the pleasure principle relative to bad and otherwise sweet things. If you can do this, of one thing I am certain—you will be in a better place in body, and in mind.