Obese people at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19

16 November 2020

MeasureIn the UK, obesity is one of the biggest health crises with 63% of adults in England being overweight or living with obesity. Children are also affected with 1 in 3 children leaving primary school overweight or obese.

If there was ever a time to start tackling obesity it is now, with recent evidence showing people who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of being seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. Nearly 8% of critically ill patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population.

Aside from COVID-19, obesity can cause more health risks including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer
  • Stroke

As well as the physical effects, obesity can also affect your mental health through depression and low self-esteem.

Losing weight can be an uphill battle, especially when cheap food can be high in calories. Making small changes to your lifestyle can have a huge impact on your health and help you to lose weight. Here’s a few tips:

  • Drink lots of water – we can sometimes confuse thirst with hunger
  • Be more active – exercising regularly will help you to burn off fat and is great for your mental health
  • Plan your meals – this will help you to stick to your calorie allowance and think about the snacks you are having
  • Get your 5 A Day – fruit and veg are low in calories and fat, and high in fibre which is fantastic for losing weight
  • Never skip breakfast – you need to start your day with essential nutrients to keep you going and helps you to not snack as much
  • Cut down on alcohol consumption – wine can have as many calories as a piece of chocolate so try to cut down where you can
  • Check food labels – this will help you to stay on track with your daily calorie allowance and you’ll be able to see how much fat, sugar and salt it contains
  • Don’t ban foods – banning foods will only mean you’ll crave them more, instead try to only have them occasionally as a treat

If you need extra support, there are loads of fantastic clubs, groups and online forums to help motivate you to keep going. As well as this there are lots of fantastic apps, here’s a few we recommend:

  • NHS Weight Loss Plan – a 12 week plan to help you lose weight, including lots of advice
  • Changing Health – lifestyle coaching programme (this app is free but requires GP referral)
  • One You Couch to 5k – great for people new to running and need extra support
  • One You Easy Meals – provides lots of healthy meal ideas and tips on making cooking healthier

To see if you are a healthy weight check your body mass index (BMI) here.