Stress and Rise in Obesity will Worsen Outcomes from COVID-19

Silvertip Golf Course in Canmore, Alberta. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
Silvertip Golf Course in Canmore, Alberta. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

It is one year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Canadians. Our government had no choice but to shut down all kinds of activities and impose physical restrictions.

These restrictions have saved many lives. Nobody can deny that. But there have been many down sides to these restrictions. We can mention a few: anxiety, loneliness, depression, lack of physical activities and weight gain.

I have FIVE questions for you:
1. Have you put on weight in the last one year?
2. Are you eating a healthy diet?
3. Are you mentally and physically active?
4. How are you coping with stress?
5. Are you getting enough sleep?

Obesity is a common, serious, and costly chronic disease.

Having obesity puts people at risk for many other serious chronic diseases and increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in turning the tide against obesity.

I wasn’t surprised to read Vietnam is the least obese country with 2.1 per cent of the population classified as obese. Among the developed countries, the United States is the most obese (36.2 per cent).

If you are obese then the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection increases. Obesity decreases lung capacity and reserve and can make ventilation more difficult. Obesity also increases your risk of dying from COVID-19. Studies have demonstrated that obesity may be linked to lower vaccine responses for numerous diseases (influenza, Hepatitis B, and tetanus).

What can we do about obesity? Obesity is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Simple answer would be – eat healthy, eat less and exercise more. This requires lot of patience and perseverance. Other option would be to seek professional help so that you can stick to a rigid protocol.

Eating a healthy diet has many advantages. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains as well as the appropriate number of calories is important. This keeps your weight under control and improves your immune system. As everyone knows a healthy diet is also good for your heart and diabetes.

Besides eating a healthy diet, physical activity is one of the best things people can do to improve their health. It is vital for healthy aging and can reduce the burden of chronic diseases and prevent early death. Only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases. More needs to be done.

Regular physical activity helps you feel better, sleep better, and reduce anxiety.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to depression, as well as chronic diseases that may increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 has made life stressful for millions of people. That will certainly affect your sleep pattern, eating habit and your relationship with friends and family. If that is the case then you should seek professional help.

Take care, eat healthy, lose weight, be physically active, sleep well and get immunized. If stress and depression is affecting your health you must get help from a professional. Sooner you do that, better for you and your family. Everybody wants to be happy and healthy.

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