Is Overweight the New Target to Reduce Coronavirus Deaths?

Being overweight can increase health risks.

I noticed a headline today about being overweight increases the mortality rate for coronavirus. The Fox News article stated that 71% of Americans are overweight and are now considered to be high-risk for severe illness and death because of it.

Overweight Americans

Months ago, the leading causes of severe COVID-19 symptoms were certain pre-existing conditions – age (over 60), hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. I remember writing about hypertension being the most critical of those conditions when patients became infected with the SARS-Co-V-2 virus. Now, it appears that just being overweight is enough to flag potential severe symptoms and early death. https://www.foxnews.com/health/overweight-potential-coronavirus-risk-factor-cdc

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is telling the public that obesity increases the death risk by nearly 50%. About 70 million adults (equally split between men and women) are defined as obese. Nearly 100 million American adults are overweight (slightly more women than men).

The article points out being overweight and the risks associated with it when contracting COVID-19 and then it jumps right into obesity and increased death rates.

COVID-19 Mortality Rate

https://covid19.who.int/region/amro/country/us shows that the death rate from COVID-19 has been gradually falling for nearly two months. The number of obese people has not increased during that time, nor has the number of overweight people. New cases are up or down depending on what state you live in. New COVID-19 cases do not mean new deaths, or even increased hospitalizations.

As we grow older, we are more susceptible to age-related diseases. COVID-19 has taken more elderly people as a group than any other. Between the ages of 45 and 54 – 10,000 people are expected to die with or from COVID-19 out of 116,000 annual deaths – 8.6% COVID-19 related deaths in this age demographic.

It goes up slightly with age. 9.1% COVID-19 related deaths in the age group of 55 to 64 years of age with 24,000 expected COVID-19 deaths out of an annual total of 265,000 expected deaths. For those people living in the range of 65 to 74 years of age, the expected COVID-19 deaths are 40,000 (10%) out of an annual expected death total of 400,000. Those surviving to reach the range of 74-85 years of age are thought to be responsible for 50,000 COVID-19 deaths (11.1%) out of a total of 450,000 annual deaths.

Older people account for more deaths, but the real determination of the increased risk of death is associated with pre-existing conditions. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm

Body Mass Index – Obese & Overweight

The CDC and other health-related centers/studies love to use body mass index (BMI) to define individuals. A BMI between 30 and 40 is obese, while a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. BMI was originally used to study groups, not individuals. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html#:~:text=Body%20Mass%20Index%20(BMI)%20is,or%20health%20of%20an%20individual. BMI can infer body fatness but is not diagnostic of fatness nor health of individuals.

Lifestyle Choices

There might be a few people (very few) who want to be fat or obese. I do not know that for a fact but stating that no one wants to be fat or obese might be a stretch. Lifestyle choices (foods, stress management, sleep, exercise, and more) determine our health. Some overweight people might be perfectly healthy except for those few pounds. A few underweight people might have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and chronic heart issues.

Looking at a person does not define his or her health. Looking at a person does not define his or her increased risk of death due to coronavirus. Testing the person for pre-existing conditions when entering a hospital provides important insight as to how to treat that patient, with or without COVID-19.

The lifestyle choices we make daily determine the potential pre-existing health issues in our 40s, 50s, and beyond. Weight is a controllable event in our lives when caught early enough. We choose what we eat, what exercise we do daily, what hours we sleep, and more. These factors, and more, impact our overall health. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-habits-linked-to-a-long-life

I am an advocate of annual physicals. I am amazed at the number of people who do not get one every year. If you do not know where your health baseline, how can you make adjustments that are effective and timely? The longer action is deferred to prevent heart disease, diabetes, or other maladies, the more likely you will add another disease to your health portfolio.

Conclusion

All of us have changing priorities in our lives. What is critical today is not on the horizon three months from now. But daily lifestyle choices will affect your health thirty years from now. Making a change willy-nilly is not the way to go.

Understand what is wrong and what it takes to fix a problem – if it is fixable. Always consult your physician before changing your diet or exercise program, especially if you are already on established medical protocols. Even changing foods can impact the efficacy and effectiveness of some medicines.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com

 

 


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