Study Shows Weight Loss Surgery Reduces Risks Of COVID Complications
The Cleveland Clinic found that, among COVID-19 patients with obesity, weight loss via bariatric surgery was associated with a 60% reduction in risk of severe complications from the virus.
“Obesity weakens the immune system, creates a chronic inflammatory state, and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and lung conditions. All of these conditions can complicate COVID-19,” the Clinic said in a press release.
“Our study provides strong evidence that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 that can be improved through a successful weight-loss intervention,” Dr. Ali Aminian, the study’s lead author, said.
In the sample of 5,053 patients who had weight loss surgery between 2004 and 2017, those who caught COVID-19 had a 49% lower risk of hospitalization, 63% lower risk of needing supplemental oxygen and a 60% lower chance of developing severe COVID-19 compared to the 15,159 control patients who did not have weight loss surgery but had a BMI above 35.
“This study suggests that an emphasis on weight loss as a public health strategy can improve outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks or related infectious diseases,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, chief academic officer at the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “That is a very important finding considering that 40% of Americans have obesity.”
American public health officials have recommended a variety of interventions for reducing personal risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, from constant masking to vaccination to steering clear of large gatherings to updating the ventilation systems in houses. Very few have publicly highlighted obesity as one of the biggest risk factors for severe COVID-19, and even fewer have publicly told Americans to lose weight if they want to protect themselves from hospitalization or death from COVID-19.