Obesity Increases the Risk of COVID-19 Complications

Obesity Increases the Risk of COVID19 Complications

Research shows that people with certain health conditions are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19. Obesity is one of these conditions. While not more likely to get the coronavirus, people with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher) face increased risk of serious illness, and even death, if they become infected.

Obesity and Health

Obesity is linked to more than 40 diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, many types of cancer, and complications from viral respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu. During the 2009 influenza H1N1 pandemic in California, 91% of people who died had obesity.

This is why achieving a healthy weight remains as important as ever. And it is why, even during a global pandemic, bariatric, or weight-loss surgery, should not be considered an elective procedure, but rather medically necessary. It is also the best treatment for people with severe obesity.

Bariatric Surgery: The Best Option for Severe Obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight is key to good health. Unfortunately, for people with severe obesity, traditional weight-loss methods like diet, exercise and medications have a poor success rate. Clinical trials show that people who have bariatric surgery achieve greater long-term weight loss than those who choose even the best non-surgical options. 

Surgery During COVID-19

During the pandemic, some patients have been reluctant to seek care out of concern of contracting the coronavirus. Some have ignored symptoms or postponed care with serious consequences.

Know that Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and health-care facilities across the country are taking proper measures to assure the safety of their patients. Masks, temperature checks, visitor limitations, physically distanced waiting areas, and frequent and thorough cleaning are helping to keep patients safe while they get the important care they need.

Bariatric surgery is in itself extremely safe. For many people, it is their best chance to reduce or eliminate serious health conditions. Before COVID-19, patients with obesity were ‘safer through surgery.’ Now, in the age of the coronavirus, this may prove to be even more true.

It looks like COVID-19 will be in our midst for quite some time. With guidance from their doctor, patients with severe obesity should feel comfortable considering this potentially life-saving surgery.

Those interested in bariatric surgery can learn more details at a free online weight loss seminar. Completing a seminar is required to join the program.

author name

James Ku, MD

James Ku, MD, is a fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon with Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery. 

Education: Medical School–Thomas Jefferson Medical College; Residency–The Graduate Hospital; Fellowship–University of North Carolina.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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