Obesity, Severe Obesity & COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its list of underlying medical conditions that put individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. One of the changes is obesity.

The CDC says that strong and consistent evidence now shows that obesity with a BMI of 30+ increases risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Previously, only severe obesity (BMI of 40+) was linked to complications. (See the evidence used to determine risks here.)

This means that more Americans are in danger of becoming very sick if they get COVID-19. According to the CDC, about 42 percent of U.S. adults have obesity, while about 9 percent have severe obesity.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country, what can nutrition and health educators do?

1. Remind people who have obesity to be even more careful to protect themselves. The CDC advises:

  • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
  • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
  • If you start feeling sick and think you may have COVID-19, get in touch with your healthcare provider within 24 hours.

2. Empower people who have obesity to make changes to lose weight (or at least maintain their weight during these stressful times). Our 12 Lessons of Wellness & Weight Loss Program program is perfect for this:

  • With 12 PowerPoint shows, you can customize the program. Spread the 12 lessons over a month, several months, or a year. Or let your clients choose which lesson(s) they want to tackle first.
  • Use the included Leader Guide to create contests and incentives for each lesson. Since your audience will likely be viewing the lessons from home, it’s nice to add the personal touch of sending them a handwritten note or prizes like our wristbands, stickers, and bookmarks.
  • Supplement the PowerPoint shows with printed material. We provide PDF handout sets for each lesson so you can send them to participants.

The CDC emphasizes that we’re learning more about COVID-19 every day. Make sure to keep your clients, employees, and students up to date. And remind them to wear a mask!

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updated on 09-21-2020