EXPERTS have said that people who are obese are two times more likely to die from the coronavirus than those with a lower body mass index (BMI).
A study of over 17 million adult NHS patients found that the risk of a Covid-19 related hospital death increased from between 1.5 and 2 times for people with a BMI of 30.
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This is the lowest level of obesity according to the NHS, but for those with a BMI of 40 or more, the study found that the risk was two times higher.
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital in London with the coronavirus he is reportedly said to have weighed 17 and a half stone, meaning he would have a BMI of around 36.
Those close to Mr Johnson said that he is now determined to lose weight and claimed that he believed his weight was the reason he was hit with Covid-19 so severely.
Obesity is also known to exacerbate other risk factors like diabetes and heart disease as well as putting excess weight on the diaphragm which makes breathing harder too, which is one reason why Covid patients who are obese have suffered disproportionately.
What is BMI and how is it calculated?
Being obese means you have a higher BMI, with a BMI of 40 meaning you are in the morbidly obese category.
BMI has traditionally been used to work out if someone is underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
Unless you do a tonne of exercise or you're naturally super-slim, the chances are that your BMI calculation will give you a ballpark idea of where you sit in terms of being a healthy weight.
BMI is calculated by using your height, weight, age and sex.
But the NHS also says that people who are from the BAME community have a higher risk of developing long term conditions such as type two diabetes.
The NHS also highlights that measuring your waist is a good way to check you are not carrying too much fat around the stomach.
It claims that regardless of your height and BMI, men should try and lose weight if their waist measures 37 inches or more and if you’re a woman you should try and lose weight if it's 31.5 inches or more.
What’s the alternative?
Scientists at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, New Jersey have previously claimed that you need to calculate your abdominal obesity index (ABOI).
Dr Zhiyong Han, who led the study, said that the advantage of ABOI "is in its simplicity and its focus on abdominal fat regardless of the total body weight, body shape and body height".
All you have to do is measure around your belly at the widest point (X) and around your chest (Y). You then divide the volume of your belly segment (X²) by your chest volume (Y²).
So ABOI = X²/Y².
So if you're a man who has a waist size of 39 and a chest of 42, your ABOI would be 1.15. The lower, the better.
The NHS recommends that people who are obese follow a calorie controlled diet and exercise frequently in order to shift the pounds.
But just last month doctors said weight loss surgery could be a “quick fix” to treat the number of Covid-19 deaths.
The British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) has urged Mr Johnson to back an increase in bariatric operations.
Bariatric surgery can include various procedures and the aim of the surgery is to help the patient lose weight by altering the digestive system.
Some surgeries will make your stomach smaller, restricting your food intake in order to curb the amount you consume.
As type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for the virus, BOMSS has said there is evidence that the treatment can aid weight loss within 12 weeks and reverse type 2 diabetes.
The society has already produced a number of guides to help people stay active, as bariatric surgery is one procedure that has ceased since the Covid-19 outbreak.
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