The importance of controlling your weight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Westin, Antigua. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
The Westin, Antigua. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

Are obese individuals at a higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19?

Yes. We know cardiac, respiratory and metabolic diseases (such as diabetes and hypertension) are more common among patients with obesity. These have been identified as risk factors for more severe disease or death from COVID-19. It is critical that people living with obesity, and especially people with a body mass index (BMI) over 40, take all possible precautions to avoid infection.

A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obesity. Your BMI should be checked at least once a year because it can help determine your overall health risks.

Your aim should be to keep your waist measurement less than half that of your height. That should be easy to measure compared to calculating BMI.

It is important to remember, although BMI is generally a good way to estimate how much body fat a person has, it does not measure body fat directly and therefore is not reliable in all cases.

For example, a person may weigh extra because he or she is athletic and has a lot of muscle, and not because he or she has excess body fat.

Your risk of diabetes increases as you build more fat around your waist line.

Women with a waist measurement of more than 90 centimeters, and men with a waist measurement of more than 100 centimeters may have more health risks than do people with smaller waist line. Your waist circumference should be checked at least once a year.

Abdominal fat or obesity has more severe health effects than fat in other parts of the body. Obesity is a chronic and often progressive disease, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure.

Many organizations including Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization now consider obesity to be a chronic disease.

COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on people’s movements and their capacity to be mobile and active. More people feel depressed and lonely. Outdoor activities are restricted. Gyms are closed. Many people find eating a source of pleasure.

How can you take control of your weight and your life?

First thing would be to categories your weight status. Are you of normal weight, overweight, obese or extremely obese? You can do this by choosing one of the methods described earlier.

Second, remember obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little. Cut back on sweet and greasy food. Make healthy diet choices. Mediterranean diet is a good choice.

Third, increase your physical activity. The four main types of physical activities are aerobic, muscle-strengthening, bone-strengthening, and stretching. Aerobic activity is the type that benefits your heart and lungs the most.

Fourth, remember achieving a healthy weight through diet and physical activity is the best way most people can improve their health.

Fifth, it is no secret that most methods of treating obesity have failed. Some are good for a short duration but most people revert to their old habits. Habits are hard to get rid of. Habits that have been ingrained in your system since childhood. Be patient and persevere. You can do it!

Sixth, experts agree there is no single solution to the problem of obesity. We should help people make better choices. Avoid your enemies – sugar, fat, salt, overeating and lack of physical activity.

Take care.

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