Year : 2021 | Volume
: 48 | Issue : 1 | Page : 7--9
Obesity and its impact on the different aspects of the COVID-19 infection: Public health perspective
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,
1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the lives of everyone and has influenced the functioning of all the sectors. In general, obesity tends to alter most of the physiological processes in the human body, including the immune system. Thus, it is important to get insights about the effect of obesity on the course of infection, so that morbidity and mortality can be minimized. An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and World Health Organization website, and a total of 16 articles were selected based on the suitability with the current review objectives. Keywords used in the search include COVID-19 and obesity. It has been reported that obesity plays an important role in different aspects of the infection (viz., increased risk to acquire the infection or more chances to transmit the infection), management, and the worst clinical outcome. To conclude, obesity has to be acknowledged as one of the risk factors for compromising the pulmonary functions and thus should be considered as a high-risk group. In fact, as obesity is an independent risk factor to warrant hospitalization of the COVID-19 patients, it is essential that the medical team anticipates the challenges and manages the obese patients proactively and improves their clinical outcomes.
|How to cite this article:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Obesity and its impact on the different aspects of the COVID-19 infection: Public health perspective.J Sci Soc 2021;48:7-9
|How to cite this URL:|
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Obesity and its impact on the different aspects of the COVID-19 infection: Public health perspective. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 27 ];48:7-9
Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2021/48/1/7/315449
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the lives of everyone and has influenced the functioning of all the sectors. As on March 16, 2021, a cumulative total of 119,791,453 cases and 2.6 million deaths, amounting to a case fatality rate of 2.2%, have been reported. On the other hand, 39% of the adults were overweight in 2016, while 38 million children <5 years of age were found to be overweight in 2019. In general, obesity tends to alter most of the physiological processes in the human body, including the immune system. Thus, it is important to get insights about the effect of obesity on the course of infection, so that morbidity and mortality can be minimized.
An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and World Health Organization website. Relevant research articles focusing on COVID-19 and obesity published in March 2020–November 2020 were included in the review. A total of 21 studies similar to the current study objectives were identified initially, of which five were excluded due to the unavailability of the complete version of the articles. Overall, 16 articles were selected based on the suitability with the current review objectives and analyzed. Keywords used in the search include COVID-19 and obesity. The collected information is presented under the following subheadings, namely, obesity and comorbidities, obesity and COVID-19, obesity impact on management of COVID-19 patients, obesity and COVID-19 deaths, triad of COVID-19 infection, implications for practice, and implications for research.
Obesity and Comorbidities
Based on the extent, duration, and distribution (android or gynecoid), obesity can either cause or exacerbate the development of a wide range of comorbidities (viz., hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases)., The findings of recent studies have revealed that the simultaneous presence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and chronic lung diseases has been linked with the development of serious forms of COVID-19 infection and higher rates of mortality., Thus, obesity can potentially account for higher rates of suffering, impairment in the quality of life, and death among COVID-19 patients.,,
Obesity and Coronavirus Disease-2019
The available research findings suggest that obese people are more prone to acquire the COVID-19 infection. This is because of the presence of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors which are present in adipose tissues of the lungs (and heart). The spike protein of the causative virus binds with these ACE2 receptors and damages the cells. Obviously, in obese people, the presence of these ACE2 receptors is on the higher side, making them more prone for the acquisition of infection. In fact, it has been even reported that obese people are more contagious than lean COVID-19 patients. This has been explained by the fact that obesity increases the duration of viral shedding and reduction in the production of interferons (which generally plays an important role in reducing the rate of replication of the RNA of the causative virus).
Obesity Impact on the Management of Coronavirus Disease-2019 Patients
We must acknowledge the fact that obesity has been linked with different respiratory complications (such as more demand for ventilator support, increased work of breathing, inefficiency in respiratory muscles, and reduced respiratory compliance), which can significantly affect the line of management of COVID-19 patients. In fact, upon analyzing the patients who lost their lives to the COVID-19 infection in a study done in Italy, it was reported that most of the patients were obese who succumbed to the infection. These observations were suggestive that obesity tends to have a significant direct impact even in the management and prognosis of COVID-19-positive patients and thus health professionals have to be more cautious.,,
Obesity and Coronavirus Disease-2019 Deaths
Obesity has been associated with the development of complications and mortality among COVID-19 patients.,,,, The findings of case series reporting findings from 221 patients revealed that the severe form of COVID-19 was associated with a body mass index of more than 28 kg/m2. On a similar note, the findings of a study revealed that death was more common among people with morbid obesity, regardless of presence of other comorbidities. Moreover, the results from another study done among cohort of inpatients in the New York city revealed that severe obesity is one of the major risk factors for the worst clinical outcome.
Triad of Coronavirus Disease-2019 Infection
In the COVID-19 infection, a triad of obesity, the causative virus, and hypercoagulability (or thrombosis) have been identified. In fact, it has been identified that despite the use of systemic anticoagulants, COVID-19 patients are at more risk to develop venous thromboembolism or disseminated intravascular coagulation., Such an association results in abnormal coagulation parameters and eventually culminates for poor prognosis of the infection.,,
Implications for Practice
The discussion of all the above parameters clearly suggests that more attention should be dedicated toward those COVID-19 patients who are obese. As the outcome of the patients varies based on the anthropometric parameters (body mass index), it is advised that all such measurements should be made. Moreover, as obese patients also tend to have the presence of various comorbidities, they have more chances of complications and mortality and thus the health professional team should be adequately prepared to deal with the complications or additional considerations (viz., higher needs of mechanical ventilation, difficulty with intubation, positioning of the patient by the nursing staff, requirement of special beds, and transport facilities). In other words, it won't be wrong to record that obese patients can be flagged as a high-risk group of individuals, who require additional care, support, and considerations for a better clinical outcome.
Implication for Research
The above discussion shows the role of obesity in different aspects of the infection (viz., increased risk to acquire the infection or more chances to transmit the infection), management, and the worst clinical outcome. However, there is an immense scope for the clinicians to understand and establish the association between obesity and different other aspects of the infection. The need of the hour is to conduct a number of studies, preferably multicentric and that too in different population groups and categorize the risk of complications or fatality based on different ranges of body mass index. Moreover, there is also a scope to gain insights into the role of obesity in the requirement of invasive ventilation and the measures which a clinician should take proactively to avert the progression of the disease into severe forms.
Obesity has to be acknowledged as one of the risk factors for compromising the pulmonary functions and thus should be considered as a high-risk group. In fact, as obesity is an independent risk factor to warrant hospitalization of the COVID-19 patients, it is essential that the medical team anticipates the challenges and manages the obese patients proactively and improves their clinical outcomes.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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