Obesity brings higher risk for contracting and dealing with COVID-19: CDC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- New guidance from the CDC shows people who are obese are more likely to be at risk when it comes to COVID-19.

"We don't want to impugn people but we have to understand and make them understand that they have to be much more cautious and that much more careful," said Dr. Barry Popkin, professor in the department of nutrition at the Gillings School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Popkin looked at literature from nearly 75 studies from across the world -- all of which looked at the relationship between obesity and COVID-19.

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He said there's a 113 percent greater likelihood that someone is obese will just go to the hospital if they contract COVID-19. That person is 75 percent more likely to go into intensive care and 48 percent more likely to die.

Dr. Popkin said before this there was only data that showed people with comorbidities--like hypertension or diabetes--had greater risk of getting and dealing with COVID-19. It didn't fully cover the population of Americans who are obese.

"I've lost 50 pounds in a year and I lost more during COVID," said David Serxner, who was out walking Monday night behind the North Carolina Museum of Art.

He said he's lost 30 pounds during COVID-19. Serxner said he got a nutritionist and committed to a plan.

"Diets don't work," he said. "It's watching what you eat, it's holding yourself accountable. I'm loving the fact that I've lost weight. I see people I haven't seen since March and they're like 'Oh My Gosh!'"

Dr. Popkin also said the obesity means your immune system is compromised and that your lungs aren't fully functioning. They also looked at the idea of just being overweight but there weren't enough studies that dealt with that.
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