Professor Amanda Salis from the School of Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia explains why obese people are in danger of suffering severe complications from the coronavirus.
Amanda Salis: There are a few reasons for that, and one of the reasons is that obesity is associated with a lot of the other health conditions that lead to worse outcomes from the coronavirus - things like hypertension and diabetes.
When these other conditions are factored into the research, it seems that people with obesity do have a higher severity of outcomes, particularly if the obesity is severe, and also in people under 60 years of age.
There are a lot of different reasons for that, and one is that lung function in obesity can sometimes be impaired, in that it can be more difficult to lower the diaphragm and allow the lungs to expand and get oxygen into the lungs; that’s one reason.
Another reason is that in obesity, there are different immune functions, so people with obesity often have a long-term, low grade inflammation where their immune system is hyperactive, and this could contribute to a worse outcome from the coronavirus infection.
There really are a couple of reasons that seem to be linking obesity to worse outcomes from the coronavirus.
Sputnik: Could obese people be put into extended coronavirus quarantines alongside the elderly?
Amanda Salis: The links between obesity and worse outcomes from the coronavirus are not as strong as the link with an older age, so governments around the world are having different lockdown laws, and in some countries it is children and older adults that are staying at home, and in other countries it is children that are allowed out and going to schools, and adults that are staying at home, so it is very varied.
I think the main thing is that because the rate of obesity is so high throughout the world, all of us know somebody close to us who has obesity, as well as someone who is older as well; it’s about everyone taking it seriously, and everyone trying to protect ourselves and each other as much as we can.
Sputnik: What can high-risk groups do to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic?
Amanda Salis: The best thing that everybody can do is obey the lockdown rules, taking them seriously. It’s not a time to crash diet, it’s already a stressful time and crash dieting is not an answer, and also it is early days in the life of COVID-19, and understanding who it is affecting and how.
I think the main thing is to know that we all know someone who could be at a higher risk of a bad outcome from the coronavirus, even though it’s kind of human to think that we are invincible. But we do all know someone who is vulnerable.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.