The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) knows that there is a lot of information available right now regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Throughout the pandemic, we’ve answered numerous questions regarding COVID-19 and obesity, such as “How does COVID-19 impact someone with obesity?” “I have obesity – do I have an increased risk of getting sick?” and more. The OAC has consulted with our medical team of experts and has some important information for you regarding COVID-19 and obesity:
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by Coronavirus. It is a serious public health threat. Older adults and people with pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, pulmonary disorders and obesity (with related conditions) are at a higher risk of experiencing complications and becoming very ill.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, shortness of breath and dry cough. Some people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. Symptoms usually start a few days after a person is infected with the virus, with most cases occurring approximately 3-7 days after exposure. In some people, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
Does having obesity make it easier for me to catch COVID-19?
- People with obesity and diabetes are not more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population. However, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in some people living with diabetes, obesity and related conditions. Currently, there is no evidence regarding the increased risk of COVID-19 infection in people with obesity.
How does having an obesity-related health condition like type 2 diabetes impact my risk for COVID-19 complications?
- In China, people with diabetes had much higher rates of serious complications and death than people without diabetes. If diabetes is well-managed, the risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19 is about the same as the general population.
I have obesity. What happens if I catch COVID-19?
- People with obesity are advised to follow the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their local authority if they think they have COVID-19 symptoms. People should not discontinue any medical treatment they are receiving without first discussing it with their healthcare provider.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine impact me if I have obesity?
- Currently, there are vaccines authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19. Current data shows that these vaccines have equal effectiveness in people with obesity versus those without obesity. In addition, people with obesity are in many instances being prioritized for the vaccine because obesity increases the risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 or developing more severe complications. Individuals with obesity who are eligible for the vaccine, and are either considering or seeking it, should feel empowered to accept the vaccine if it is recommended to them by their healthcare provider. For additional information about the COVID-19 vaccines, click here for a list of resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In conclusion, there does not seem to be an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 if you have obesity; however, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in some people living with diabetes, obesity and related health conditions. If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, if you have been impacted by COVID-19 and have experienced any limitations in access to healthcare, please let us know by visiting www.ObesityAction.org/action-center/report-access-to-care-issues/.
Rest assured, the OAC is working with all of our medical providers to ensure we bring you the latest information on COVID-19 and its impact on people living with obesity. Please visit our website at ObesityAction.org for all news and updates. The OAC remains fully committed to our members and the public throughout the pandemic. We’re here for you.