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COVID-19: More Reason to Watch Your Weight

Being overweight increases the risk of serious COVID-19 illness

A man receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinicPeople with obesity, and even those who are overweight, are more at risk for severe COVID-19. They are more likely to suffer serious complications and even death. If you worry about your weight, there are well-known steps you can take to protect yourself now. There are ways to help you find a healthier weight, like participating in a weight management program like the VA’s MOVE!.

It is easy to think that with more vaccines distributed across the country we can begin to relax. Warmer weather makes it more inviting to get out more. But this is not the time to let down your guard. It's important to know that anyone who is overweight at any age is at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 complications.

How being overweight affects you

Being overweight, obese, or severely obese can make you more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. The risk of severe illness increases sharply with a higher BMI (an easy measurement to learn your weight category). In this case, COVID-19 can have a more significant effect in the following ways:

  • Having obesity triples the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.

  • Obesity also increases the risk of needing intensive care admission, requiring mechanical ventilation, and even death.

  • Having obesity also increases your risk for other health problems, like hypertension, and diabetes that can increase your risk for severe COVID-19.

What you can do now

Though staying home can protect against getting COVID-19, the extra time at home can lead to stress, boredom, and unhealthy behaviors, like overeating. To find your way to a healthier lifestyle, consider creating a plan to eat smart and exercise regularly.

You also need to continue to cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, and stay at least 6 feet away, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. And learn when you can get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Keep yourself accountable

Use a food journal to track your eating habits. Recording your daily meals can help you make mindful and healthy choices about food. Veterans with a My HealtheVet account can use tools such as the online body weight tracker and food journal to record and view progress. Consider participating in the VA’s MOVE! weight management program. It is available via video connection or by telephone at many VA facilities.

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