COVID-19 And Weight

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is caused by a virus, part of a wide variety of viruses called Coronaviruses, that affect the respiratory system with infections. Coming from these, COVID-19 (Corona Virus-Induced Disease 2019) is caused by a new mutation of the virus, specifically called SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”. The first appearance of this illness was reported in December 2019. 

Symptoms of COVID-19

The majority of the world’s population has been infected with COVID-19 at least once in the past three years, so the symptoms that the illness brings up are more or less known by everyone. According to, the common symptoms of COVID-19 are the following: 

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever and chills
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscles and body aches

In some cases, people infected with COVID-19 experienced all of the symptoms above, while others either experienced only a few or none of the symptoms at all. In any of these cases, it should be best to self-isolate in order to recover and avoid the spread of the virus.

Obesity is a risk factor for more severe symptoms of COVID-19 infection

Various research has shown that the majority of people that contracted severe symptoms of COVID-19 were obese or already contracted another acute pathology. According to, people with obesity are 113% more likely to attend an ICU (intensive care unit) compared to healthy weighted people. Obesity can impair immunity and can cause chronic inflammation, potentially worsening a COVID-19 infection. 

Pro-Inflammatory State

Obesity can alter immunity and lead to a dysregulation of hormones, cells, and proteins. Obesity can also increase the levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins produced by cells to control the growth and activity of immune and blood cells. 

As the immune system is impaired, it can be difficult for it to protect itself from inflammation. An obese person that overeats increases the immune response, which can lead to inflammations generated by a higher level of cytokines. Moreover, obesity can cause other serious pathologies such as: 

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cancer

For this reason, people living with obesity and with low-chronic inflammation could be more prone to COVID-19 infections. 

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Problems

COVID-19 can cause breathing issues. It is one of the most concerning symptoms, especially when compounded with obesity. According to Peters and his research, obese people have altered lung and chest wall function due to deposits of fat in the abdominal cavities and the mediastinum.1 Because of these mechanical changes, other respiratory diseases can occur, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Dyspnea 
  • Wheezing
  • Narrowed airways

According to the British Heart Foundation, obesity can also create clots in the arteries, the vessels that carry blood around the body. In order for the heart to correctly pump blood through our body, the blood should be smooth and flat, with no obstacles such as clogged veins and arteries. Thus, if you add all of the COVID-19 symptoms on top of the complications of obesity, this can be extremely dangerous.

COVID-19 and Weight Loss

People that contract COVID-19 could suffer from malnutrition. According to the research of L. Di Filippo, the loss of smell and taste combined with fatigue, high temperature, and lack of appetite have affected the proportion of food intake in many patients.2 The research also explains that self-isolation and low physical activity can lead to a drop in muscle mass. During the recovery from illness, it is important to put extra effort into eating. The NHS shows how to get back to a healthy diet routine by integrating the following: 

  • Proteins: eggs, meat, legumes
  • Hydration 
  • Dairies
  • High fibre: cereals, pasta, bread, rice
  • Fruit and vegetables


People should now be aware that obesity can be a dangerous factor of worsened COVID-19 symptoms because of the impairment of their immune system. Obesity can also cause blood clotting and affect respiratory function. It is important to maintain a balanced diet to maximise your body’s protection against infections like COVID-19. 


  1. U. Peters & A. E Dixon, The effect of obesity on lung function, [online]. Available at:
  2. L. Di Filippo, R. De Lorenzo, M. D'Amico, V. Sofia, L. Roveri, R. Mele, A. Saibene, P. Rovere-Querini, C. Conte, COVID-19 is associated with clinically significant weight loss and risk of malnutrition, independent of hospitalisation: A post-hoc analysis of a prospective cohort study, [online] Available at:

Silvia Battaglia

Tourism and Travel Services Management Student, Anglia Ruskin University, England

I'm a passionate reader and writer, my best achievement is the first draft of my own book. I started writing when I was really young.
Experienced medical writer. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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