Health officials are putting an entire Long Island town on a diet to drive down rising obesity rates amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With many of us stuck in our homes – ordering take-out and stress eating – a weight gain phenomenon has emerged nicknamed the ‘Quarantine 15.’
Now, doctors and fitness instructors in Huntington, which has about 200,000 residents, are introducing a voluntary healthy lifestyle and exercise program.
They say that obesity and obesity-related conditions are very serious risk factors in COVID-19 cases and that reducing the number of overweight residents will also reduce the number of coronavirus patients.
Health officials are introducing a voluntary healthy lifestyle and exercise program for the town of Huntington, Long Island in New York. Pictured: The announcement of the program at a press conference on Wednesday
Studies have shown that chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of infection and death (file image)
‘We’re bringing attention to this issue because the quality of our health is more important than ever,’ Dr William Spencer, chairman of the Suffolk County Legislature Committee on Health, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
‘As we slowly work our way out of this crisis, it is important for us to make healthy choices…so we need to take charge of the situation.’
Currently, 42.4 percent of the US adult population is obese as are 18.5 percent of American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity is a known risk factor for several chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack and even certain types of cancer.
Experts have warned that the proportion of obese adults will only grow as younger generations do.
It has quickly emerged that being overweight and/or obese is a major risk factor for people infected with the coronavirus.
Dr David Buchin (pictured), Huntington Hospital’s director of bariatric surgery, will offer nutritional advice and do Facebook Live videos on healthy eating topics
Past research ha shown that chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of infection and death.
Additionally, a recent study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that obese adults who become infected with the flu are not only at a greater risk of severe complications, but remain contagious longer.
Although it is unclear why obese adults are more contagious, scientists believe it may be that that obesity changes the body’s immune response and leads to chronic inflammation.
A CDC report last month found that of 178 adult patients with underlying conditions, 48.3 percent were obese.
Dr David Buchin, Huntington Hospital’s director of bariatric surgery, announced a healthy lifestyle program will be going up on his website that will include a section on diet and a section on exercise.
Nutritional advice will be from Buchin’s practice and he will conduct several Facebook live events on topics such as how obesity can put you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, how to control emotional eating, and how to shop healthily.
For the exercise portion of the program, Intelligence Fitness, a local boutique gym, will be offering free fitness and yoga classes via Zoom.
Obese people who become infected with the flu are not only at a greater risk of severe complications but remain contagious longer. Pictured: US Army service members examine a patient’s X-ray results at the Javits New York Medical Station in New York City, April 24
Phil Sottile, the founder of Intelligent Fitness, told reporters that employees will even bring equipment to people’s houses.
‘As far as health is concerned, when you exercise it reduces stress and anxiety…helps to manage glucose metabolism, which is some of the situations and conditions that create diabetes and complications from diabetes,’ he said.
‘Preventative care is at the forefront of reducing all of the expenses associated with medical management, especially in insurance and going to the doctor.’
Andrew Raia, the town’s clerk, says he’s one of the many Long Islanders who eats to relieve stress or goes to a drive-thru window at the end of a long work day, but hopes to change that.
‘[Let’s] make this COVID-19 tragedy into something good. Set a new lifestyle for yourself. Take the necessary step to turn things around because this virus is going to be with us for sometime,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘I look forward…to turning the health of Huntingtonians and really all New Yorkers and those across the country around.’
Why obese people may be more at risk for coronavirus: Fat cells make large amounts of a protein used by the deadly infection to infiltrate human cells
By Vanessa Chalmers, Health Reporter for MailOnline
The reason why obese people may be more at risk of dying from coronavirus could be because their fat cells make large amounts of a protein used by the infection to infiltrate human cells.
The coronavirus – scientifically called SARS-CoV-2 – latches onto ACE-2 receptors, known as the ‘gateway’ into cells inside body.
Fat cells express ACE-2 receptors, which experts say may explain why obese people have higher odds of suffering a severe bout of COVID-19.
ACE-2 is also expressed in the fat cells of people with type 2 diabetes – another high-risk health condition driven by obesity.
The coronavirus – scientifically called SARS-CoV-2 – latches onto ACE-2 receptors, known as the ‘gateway’ into cells inside body. Fat cells ‘widely express’ ACE-2 receptors, which may explain the link between obesity and severe COVID-19
Some researchers now believe diabetes drugs could be used to fight the infection – and admitted that losing weight may also have a benefit.
The scientists who posed the theory, from Germany and the US, also outlined how fat cells are linked to a lung-scarring condition called pulmonary fibrosis.
With COVID-19 added on top, the lungs would struggle to get enough oxygen to the rest of the body.
The evidence is not concrete but data from hospitalised COVID-19 patients suggests obese people are more likely to die than those who are slim.
Public Health England has launched an investigation into how obesity plays a role in disease severity, as well as ethnicity and gender.