Covid-19 is a having a massive impact on humanity. But why have we seemingly slept-walked our way into one of the biggest risk factors of all, an obesity pandemic?

As humans develop as a species, the challenges we face continue to change. We are increasingly moving into a world where the threats to our survival are becoming very different to those faced by other organisms, and it is possible that our intrinsic survival mechanisms have not yet caught up with the 'world of abundance' we are increasingly inhabiting.

As food acquisition becomes ever easier, mechanisms evolved by our body to drive us to consume as much as we can get may in fact risk pushing us into obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, and it can negatively impact mental health.

More relevant at the moment is that obesity also dramatically increases the risk of poor outcomes with COVID-19, as outlined by the World Obesity Federation report released in March 2021. Of the 2.5 million deaths due to COVID-19 reported by the end of February 2021, a staggering 2.2 million, the report states, were in countries where more than half of the population is classified as overweight.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that the health of our population is, in many ways, fragile. In July 2020, Public Health England published a report emphasising the negative impacts of an overweight or obese BMI on outcomes following COVID-19 infection. This could be explained by the increased incidence of hypertension and type II diabetes in these individuals - both major risk factors for worse COVID-19 prognosis - but the picture is likely more complicated than this. Higher BMIs may be correlated with lower levels of a hormone called adiponectin.

Lower adiponectin levels, some lines of evidence suggest, are associated with impaired lung function, possibly owing to its anti-inflammatory effects. And poor lung function can make respiratory infections much more dangerous.

Read the full article about obesity and Covid-19 by Sambhavi Sneha Kumar at The Naked Scientists.