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Your Healthy Family: Substantial weight loss can reduce risk of severe COVID-19

Posted at 7:57 AM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 12:38:31-04

A new study shows people who’ve lost a substantial amount of weight from surgery were able to reduce their risk for severe COVID-19 complications by 60 percent.

"In the past two years, we learned that obesity can increase the severity of COVID-19, but we didn’t know if losing weight can be helpful for patients with obesity. That’s why we decided to do this study," Dr. Ali Aminian, who led the Cleveland Clinic study, said.

Dr. Aminian said obesity can weaken the immune system, create a chronic inflammatory state, and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clots and lung conditions.

The study looked at more than 20,000 patients with obesity. One group had Bariatric weight loss surgery and the other did not. Both groups got COVID-19 at a similar rate, but the group who had weight-loss surgery had much better outcomes.

Researchers found patients who had surgery had a:

  • 49 percent lower risk of hospitalization
  • 63 percent lower risk of need for supplemental oxygen
  • 60 percent lower risk of developing severe COVID-19

"The findings of this study should not be interpreted that losing weight can be a replacement for the vaccine or getting the booster," Dr. Aminian said.

He said anyone is vulnerable to severe COVID-19, and everyone should follow public health guidelines like wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.