For a long time, we’ve known about the link between obesity and serious illness. The condition is the No. 2 factor in preventable death behind smoking. That’s one of the reasons the Pinsky Weight Loss Clinic works so hard to get patients down to their ideal weight.

Research now confirms that obesity increases a person’s risk of getting COVID-19 by 46 percent. Obese persons have a 113 percent higher chance of being hospitalized and a 48 percent increased risk dying when they contract the disease. One of the reasons for this higher risk is that COVID can infect cells within body fat. Stanford University School of medicine researchers found that European patients who died of COVID had the coronavirus present in the fat around their organs, including the heart and intestines.

Obesity exacerbates COVID, at least in part, because it weakens a person’s immune response and promotes inflammation. As a consequence, extremely overweight people infected with the disease may also be prone to “long COVID,” which can entail symptoms that last for months.

A recent study found that patients who underwent weight-loss surgery were at a significantly lower risk of complications from COVID, including hospitalization and the need for supplemental oxygen.

The bottom line is that being overweight is dangerous in a world where COVID is infecting much of the population. You want to give yourself every advantage available. 

Weight loss will not only reduce the statistical likelihood of serious COVID complications but it also tends to improve one’s health overall. The list of health risks to the obese is, unfortunately, a long one. It includes type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, some forms of cancer and many other maladies.

That being the case, it’s critical that people reach and maintain a healthier body weight. We all know that diet and physical activity play a huge role in weight control. But it can be a very difficult path. Sometimes a person needs medical assistance and ongoing education to negotiate this process. That’s what we’re here for.