Academic and university professor Paul Laursen also coaches professional athletes around the world, such as triathlete Kyle Buckingham in South Africa. This is Buckingham (right) at the Ironman World Champions. (Submitted)

B.C. researcher says excess body fat increases risk for COVID-19

Roughly 80 per cent of the world has an increased rate of risk for COVID-19

A recent academic paper co-written by a B.C. researcher argues excess body fat increases an individual’s risk of dying from COVID-19.

Early data on COVID-19 from China suggests people most vulnerable to infection had pre-existing illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation.

According to the article, The Perfect Storm: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Meets Overfat Pandemic many of those conditions are caused by being overfat. The paper estimates up to 80 per cent of the population of the world is overfat, referring to it as a ‘hidden’ pandemic.

Potential relationship between body fat status and rates of infection. (Figure from The Perfect Storm: Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic Meets Overfat Pandemic)

As opposed to obesity, which is determined using a body mass index (BMI) calculation to determine if someone is overweight, overfat is defined as having excess body fat.

Paul Laursen, who hails from Revelstoke, is one of the authors of the paper and adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Auckland University of Technology. He said excess body fat can harbour immune cells and restrict their availability to fight disease.

“Excess body fat can hinder the body’s metabolic state,” Laursen said. He continued people who are under fat are also at a higher risk of infection.

READ MORE: Murky mystery of COVID-19’s origins takes back seat in Canada to easing crisis: feds

In a previous paper written by Laursen, it argued that BMI fails to include 50 per cent of people who still have dangerous amounts of fat, including those with the proverbial beer belly.

According to both papers, abdominal fat is of particular concern. One reason is that stomach fat grows deep inside your body, wraps around vital organs and can eventually lead to other health complications such as heart attack or stroke.

The BMI calculation can also be problematic for people with high muscle mass, as muscle weighs more than fat.

“Using BMI, many of the athletes I train would be considered obese,” said Laursen, who coaches professional athletes around the world, such as triathlete Kyle Buckingham in South Africa.

READ MORE: Revelstoke resident creates global sport training program

Laursen’s recent paper stated the collision of the overfat pandemic with the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “perfect storm” for putting more people at risk for COVID-19.

Because of the threat the virus poses, he said public health orders and recommendations for physical distancing are necessary to fight the novel coronavirus.

According to an article in Nature Reviews Microbiology journal, if all the viruses on earth were laid side by side, they would stretch for 100 million light-years.

In mammals and birds alone, there are thought to be 1.7 million undiscovered types of viruses.

“An overfat body cannot mount as good a defence against an invader,” said Laursen. He added that a healthy immune system allows humans to safely swim through a virus prone environment every day.

As the country starts to reopen, Laursen said we are faced with the question of lives versus livelihood. People that are overfat and decide to go back to work are more at risk for future infection, he said.

READ MORE: Most Canadians comfortable with pace of easing restrictions: poll

Laursen’s recent paper suggests it’s easier to prevent viral infections through a healthy lifestyle than to treat them. A strong immune system can be a safeguard for future illnesses and/or pandemics.

Individuals can test for being overfat by measuring their waist. Laursen says a person’s waist measurements should be less than half of a person’s height for a healthy weight.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Academic and university professor Paul Laursen also coaches professional athletes around the world, such as triathlete Kyle Buckingham in South Africa. This is Buckingham (right) at the Ironman World Champions. (Submitted)

Just Posted

COVID-19: SD67 approves budget reductions

Staff positions will be cut to balance budget

COVID-19: Pre-recorded graduation events planned for students in School District 67

Graduates from Penticton Secondary have created petition to urge postponement of grad ceremonies

COVID-19: SD67 plans restart program for Penticton, Summerland students

District following provincial guidelines as students return to classrooms on June 1

Summerland adopts sign policy for Bottleneck Drive members

Policy governs directional signs for wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Almost half of shops in North Okanagan mall reopened

Reduced food court capacity, curb-side pickup program en route

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Morning Start: Why is it so dangerous to wake a sleepwalker?

Your morning start for Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reports of early morning gunshots rattle downtown Penticton

Three to four gunshot like sounds were reported by residents

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Most Read