Obesity and COVID Risk


This is the big deal about obesity.

Not that it increases that feeling of being uncomfortable in our own skin, although it does do that.  But the BIG deal is that obesity puts us at increased risk of all other lifestyle diseases, and at increased risk of MANY types of viral and bacterial infections.

A retrospective study article in Clinical Infectious Diseases published in April of this year found that patients <60 years of age with a positive COVID test and a BMI of between 30 and 34 were 1.8 times more likely to be admitted to acute or critical care comparable to patients with BMI <30.

For those with BMI >35, the risk increased by 3.6 times compared to those with BMI <30.

(Obesity in Patients Younger Than 60 Years Is a Risk Factor for COVID-19 Hospital Admission)




Inflammation is THE problem for COVID patients.

As the immune system begins to respond to the invading virus, it responds initially with the innate immune system.

The innate immune system does not “learn” to respond to specific invaders like the acquired immune system but is part of a general response to microbes and causes inflammation as part of that attack on invaders.

Part of the innate immune system is called the Alternative Pathway of Complement (APC) System, which is a cascade system of proteins that attacks an invading organism and kills it.

According to a study published in the Journal Blood (access here), it appears that SARS-CoV2 has the ability to misdirect the APC system, causing it to attack a person’s own cells increasing inflammation and cell death in lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs.

This is why patients are dying of secondary causes such has heart attack and asphyxia.  And if patients already have issues with heart, lungs, and kidneys, etc., the inflammatory reaction further damages those organs.

These researchers found that blocking Factor D (an enzyme of the ACP protein cascade), decreased the inflammatory reaction that causes so much damage to normal cells.

The Obesity-Inflammation Connection

So, blocking Factor D, (also known as adipsin) is a great way to stop an already out of control immune system response.  There are medications being developed for autoimmune conditions coming down the pipeline.  These medications try to block various components of the complement system, which would be important for those who have an acute life-threatening condition like COVID.

But a good question to ask is, “Where does Factor D come from?”

Because if we know where the cascade proteins come from, or why the cascade gets triggered, maybe we can decrease the response before it begins.

Factor D (adipsin) is made in the liver and in adipocytes.  Yup—fat cells.  And the more fat cells we carry, the more Factor D our bodies make.

In Type II Diabetics, Factor D tries to help the pancreas to release more and more insulin in response to ever increasing levels of blood sugar.

So, this (at least in part) is the connection between those with underlying conditions that are lifestyle diseases and worse outcomes from OOVID infections. 

Those lifestyle diseases are caused or triggered by an imbalance in insulin/glucagon levels resulting in insulin resistance (IR), weight gain, increased levels of Factor D, and an over-the-top immune system response that causes more harm than healing.

(For more on how to control insulin/glucagon balance please read Good Carb/Bad Carb)

The Obesity-Autoimmune Disease Connection

Knowing this relationship between an out-of-control immune response and obesity, it is reasonable for us to draw some conclusions or make some hypotheses about how autoimmune diseases and obesity are linked.

Obesity is, in fact, a risk factor for all autoimmune diseases, and there is A LOT of research going on to study this link.

Start with these articles if you’re interested:

Click here to read about the link between obesity and autoimmunity.

And here to read about stopping the complement system with glutathione.

Time for a Change: Putting out the Fire

In the linked Science Daily article above, Professor Shoenfeld states,

“If a patient is at risk, he or she should be told to do everything in his or her power to maintain a healthy weight.”

There is no absolute way to control a respiratory virus.  There just isn’t.

We should do all the common-sense things:  wash hands, keep sick people isolated, protect our most vulnerable populations, stay isolated if you’re in a high-risk category from cancer, or are on chemo, or other immune disrupting medications, or are over the age of 60, etc., etc. 

We all know the drill by now.

But even if we do “all the things”, nothing will prepare us more for a CoVID exposure than shedding that extra weight.

Losing weight takes away the fuel that is the cause of the inflammatory response.


Doing that will also decrease our risk of all other lifestyle diseases, AND make us more comfortable in our own skin, to boot.

Let me know how I can help.

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