FRIDAY, December 31, 2021 (HealthDay News) – By now, most people know that obesity is a leading risk factor for severe COVID-19, but a new study suggests that significant weight loss can reduce that risk.
“Research results show that patients with obesity, those with bariatric [weight-loss] Surgery before a COVID-19 infection reduced your risk of developing serious illness by 60%, ”said lead study author Dr. Ali Aminian, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
“Our study provides strong evidence that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 that can be improved through successful weight loss intervention,” Aminian said in a press release from the Cleveland Clinic.
The researchers included more than 20,000 adults with obesity in the study. They compared a group of over 5,000 patients with a body mass index of 35 or more who had weight loss surgery between 2004 and 2017 with more than 15,000 control patients who had no surgery, a ratio of 1 to 3 .
Before March 1, 2020, patients who had undergone bariatric surgery lost 19% more body weight than patients in the control group.
Aminian and his colleagues then looked at four COVID-19 Outcomes, including rate of infection with the virus, hospitalization, need for additional oxygen, and serious illness, which they defined as ICU admission, need for mechanical ventilation, or death.
They found that the infection rate was similar between the surgical and nonsurgical groups, but patients who had weight loss surgery had a 49% lower risk of hospitalization and a 63% lower risk of additional ones Oxygen demand and a 60% lower risk of developing severe COVID-19.
“Impressive results of the current study demonstrate the reversibility of the health consequences of obesity in patients with COVID-19,” said lead study author Dr. Steven Nissen, Senior Academic Director of the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
“This study suggests that an emphasis on weight loss as a public health strategy may improve outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks or related infectious diseases,” Nissen said in the press release. “This is a very important finding when you consider that 40% of Americans are obese.”
The reason that Weight loss has such an impact is not clear, but the data suggests that patients who underwent weight loss surgery were healthier at the time of infection, which led to better results. Obesity also weakens the immune system, creates a chronic inflammatory state, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and lung disease, the researchers said.
The study was published online in the journal on December 29 JAMA Surgery.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about it Obesity and COVID-19.
SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, press release, December 29, 2021