Our Experts, Your Health

What does my weight have to do with COVID?

Covid and your health

The pandemic has and is turning our lives upside down.   I miss gathering with friends and family and mostly miss college football and tailgating.  It also has made my practice of selfcare more of a priority.  I don’t exactly have the healthiest of genes.  Most of my family members are overweight, obese, and or have metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.  Being obese, having metabolic syndrome and or diabetes increases your chances of having severe complications from COVID.   

The pandemic has put a spotlight on obesity.  There is now evidence that obesity is a risk factor for worse outcomes, such as increase hospitalization, the need for ventilator support and even death. 

Obesity is a complex, chronic, relapsing condition. It weakens our immune system by creating a constant state of inflammation that produces cytokines.   The coronavirus also causes the immune system to release cytokines, therefore leading to an excessive amount of cytokine production that could cause organ damage.  It’s not just the cytokine production that can cause poor outcomes from COVID but also the co morbidities that are associated with obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea.

It is becoming ever clearer that the pandemic should make us all stop and think about our health and what we can do to reduce our risks.   I imagine a cytokine storm happening in my body which motivates me to keep my weight down, get adequate sleep, eat colorful foods (the rainbow), stop eating late at night ( have a start and stop time of eating) limit snacking at my desk, exercise every morning, listen to my watch and get up and move when I have been at my desk to long or on a virtual meeting, take meaningful deep breaths, limit my sugar intake,  drink more water, hug my dog more often, practice gratitude, and  watch reruns of the 2018 and 2019 Cat Griz game.  It’s a work in progress no day is perfect, but I stay the course.  On occasion I still have too much wine. 

Lisa Ranes, RD, CDE lranes@billingsclinic.org

I'm a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and the Metabolism Center Manager at Billings Clinic. I became a registered dietitian because as a young girl I struggled with my weight and I have a family history of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. I recognized that I cannot change that I am female, nor my age or my family but I can make a difference in my health by eating healthfully and being active. Helping people to become more healthy is very rewarding, I want people to know that your health is about choices and that it is up to you to make a difference. I run everyday before work with my husband and I enjoy participating in road races with my family. I also enjoy being active on the weekends, hiking, snow shoeing, and biking.

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