COVID-19, the disease that has hatched from SARS-CoV-2 – a new strain of coronavirus – has dwarfed its predecessor’s destruction. To put the numbers into perspective, there were 8,098 reported cases and 774 deaths caused by SARS, which broke out in 2002. COVID-19 is responsible for 20,820,389 cases and 747,476 deaths. Worst of all, these figures are set to rise until a vaccine is rolled out.
Researchers have established that certain pre-existing conditions put you at far greater risk of severe symptoms that require hospitalisation.
Mounting evidence points to the perils of being overweight and a new study adds further weight to this association.
According to a new study led by University College London, obesity increases your risk of hospitalisation by 70 percent.
Professor Mark Hamer, a clinical professor and honorary consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine, led the research.
He and colleagues, including from universities of Southampton and Edinburgh, analysed data from the UK Biobank study.
It collected data on 334,329 people from England with an average age of 56 between 2006 and 2010, asking them about their health and lifestyle habits.
The team compared the data in relation to cases of coronavirus hospital admissions recorded by Public Health England from March 16 up to April 26.
During this period, testing was restricted to those with symptoms in hospital, therefore the study represents severe COVID-19.
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Around 0.2 per cent, or 640 people, from the large population sample ended up in hospital after contracting the virus.
Through their adjusted models, researchers found “there was a linear increase in the risk of COVID-19 with increasing BMI”.
Body mass index (BMI) is the most widely used method to check if you’re a healthy weight is body mass index.
BMI is a measure of whether you’re a healthy weight for your height.
It was determined from modestly elevated weight, as those with a BMI over 25 had a 40 percent higher risk of hospitalisation after taking into account age and sex – two independent risk factors for COVID-19.
For those in the obese category (BMI 30 to 35), the risk was 70 percent higher.
And those in the severe obese category (BMI more than 35), the odds of hospitalisation more than doubled.
What’s more, underweight people, with a BMI of below 18.5, had a six percent increased risk of severe COVID-19 compared to those of a healthy weight.
What is a healthy weight?
According to the NHS, for most adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight.
The two most important steps in tackling obesity are eating a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity.
As the NHS explains, there’s no single rule that applies to everyone, but to lose weight at a safe and sustainable rate of 0.5 to 1kg a week, most people are advised to reduce their energy intake by 600 calories a day.
The Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes moderate-intensity activity a week – for example, five sessions of 30-minute exercise a week.
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