Is Obesity a Risk Factor for Coronavirus?

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The coronavirus pandemic attacks the body’s immunity and leaves the person highly vulnerable to death. Those with underlying medical conditions are already at high risk but the medical experts are wondering if obesity is a risk factor for coronavirus or not. Although many people don’t even categorize obesity as a disease yet researchers think that coronavirus could be deadly for obese people.

Candida Rebello has recently published research explaining the possible connection between these two. She says that obese people have a high leptin level which may have a hidden effect on coronavirus. Click here to read the original study. 

Typically, the leptin hormone is associated with appetite control and metabolism. But it also has some impact on the body’s immune cells. the fat cells in the body produce this hormone leptin and it is also produced by lung tissues. So, a person who is obese will have higher levels of leptin in his body.

These high leptin levels may lower the immunity especially in lungs, says Dr. Rebello. Also, these high leptin levels induce inflammation which may make the situation even worse.

Also read- Coronavirus Crisis Likely to Continue till Next Year- WHO States

Obesity along with many other complications can affect a person’s ability to fight against the coronavirus. It clearly shows that obesity could be a high-risk factor for coronavirus.

The inflammation caused by high leptin levels may further damage the body’s immune response and the person may also experience reduced lung capacity.

Now a virus like a coronavirus that weakens the body by taking over lungs is something highly risky for overweight people. their lungs are already inflamed, the body’s immunity is compromised so they are on the verge of a disaster.

The companies working on coronavirus vaccine should also consider the obese people and immunocompromised patients along with healthy individuals for vaccine design.

In general, obesity is a primary source for a number of health complications. It can cause common everyday problems to chronic conditions which can make a person terminally ill. But right now, there is something more dangerous.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, infecting millions of people and killing thousands, it doesn’t look like that this virus could be stopped with miraculous treatment. But one thing that has been successful so far is preventive measures.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) highlights the role of personal accountability and responsible attitude which could help to control coronavirus spread. In this regard, isolation, social distancing, wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and avoiding public interaction could limit the transmission rate.

Also read- France May Close its Border with Spain following Second Wave of Coronavirus 

The researchers are positive that leptin has some role to play in obese people who might be at risk of coronaviruses like diabetic patients, HIV patients, and older people. however, for confirmation, they have to study the viral proteins and their impact on the immune system especially those with a weaker immune system due to any disease or genetics.

In any case, the risk factors that make some people more susceptible to the virus can be controlled by following the preventive measures only. Unless a vaccine or treatment medicine for coronavirus is developed, everyone with a weaker immunity even the obese people would be considered as a high-risk group.

Study source- International Journal of Obesity (2020)

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