The relationship between obesity and the coronavirus is one that deserves attention. In numerous ways, the two pandemics are staunch allies who serve each other’s unwholesome purposes. Could any good possibly be attributed to either? Surprisingly, yes. Dyxon Hansell is a World Health Organization health adviser in Samoa, who told The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) that Pacific Islanders have experienced health benefits because of COVID-19.
[L]ockdowns have led to people cooking at home more, resulting in healthier meals. Some island governments are also offering free online training on how to provide healthy food and drink in schools; healthy diets and recipes for home preparation; and online ordering of healthy food for delivery. With people being at home more, they are also being encouraged to grow more of their own food.
In a previous post, we mentioned two of the authors of the Cleveland Clinic research paper about long Covid (PASC). They are Bartolome Burguera, M.D., and Kristin Englund, M.D. For Healio.com, Erin Michael asked about the treatment options for Long COVID. Dr. Englund answered,
Patients who present with a post-COVID 19 disorder come in with a wide variety of symptom-related complaints. There is not one specific treatment. The treatment has to be specifically directed for each patient.
This echoes a point we made about how helping people who have this condition can be a lengthy and intricate process, definitely not in the category of “one size fits all.” Dr. Englund emphasizes that, three or six months after ostensibly recovering from the virus, a person might fall ill with a totally different symptom. They may not connect the two events in a causal way. Some people with a mild case of COVID, or even an asymptomatic case, never know they had the virus. People don’t know what signs to look for, in themselves or anyone else. So, when another bodily system konks out, they don’t see the link to a past event that hardly made an impression on them at the time.
There are practical considerations. Medical diagnostic equipment comes with a hefty price tag, and when a machine is re-engineered to accommodate very large patients, of course, the expense goes up. Such equipment is not accessible everywhere.
Childhood Obesity News has also mentioned the hesitancy that many obese people feel about stepping on scales and undressing in front of doctors. The interviewer asked about barriers to care that may obstruct patients who need treatment. Dr. Englund replied,
Some patients may not feel comfortable bringing up their symptoms for fear of being seen as someone who complains or feeling of being judged… The prospect of traveling to an exam and coming in for further testing may be a difficult prospect for patients who have a very high BMI. Some of the evaluations involve certain studies — e.g., pulmonary function test, echocardiogram — that may be challenging for people who have a high BMI.
One of Dr. Englund’s concerns is that Long COVID symptoms may be falsely attributed to obesity alone, rather than share the responsibility with COVID. There is plenty of room for misunderstanding and misdiagnosis.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Covid-19 has made the obesity epidemic worse, but failed to ignite enough action,” BMJ.com, 03/04/21
Source: “Long COVID-19 among patients with obesity ‘may be missed or misdiagnosed’,” Healio.com, 09/17/21
Image by Christopher Dombres/Public Domain