Obesity leads to risk of multiple diseases and COVID-19 severity

Webinar held to mark World Digestive Health Day

Obesity and high body mass index (BMI) not only lead to risk of multiple diseases but also increase the risk of COVID-19 severity among patients.

This was one of the points highlighted at the webinar hosted by the Tamil Nadu Gastroenterologist Trust and World Gastroenterology Organisation on Saturday to mark the World Digestive Health Day.

With this year’s theme being obesity, the webinar was hosted to raise awareness on obesity and its impact on developing co-morbidities and COVID-19.

P. Piramanayagam, gastroenterologist at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, highlighted how the prevalence of obesity had increased in the past four decades. Noting that factors, including diet, lack of physical exercise, genetics and drugs causing weight gain, were some of the reasons for obesity, he elaborated on the risks of various diseases, including stroke, cancer, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases. He also spoke on the role of endoscopy in treating obesity.

High risk

Citing studies carried out in the U.K. and the U.S., Gourdas Choudhuri, chairman, department of gastroenterology and hepatobiliary sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, said patients with higher BMI were at a risk of COVID-19 severity.

Chances of hospitalisation were more among patients with high BMI.

Obesity is also associated with higher mortality rates. Diet and exercise hold the key to weight management and reducing the risk of COVID-19 complications, he said.

Various subjects, including obesity and liver diseases, pharmacotherapy, need for exercise and the role of surgery in treating obesity, were underlined during a panel discussion.

V. Balasubramanian, gastroenterologist; P.K. Reddy, surgical gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, and N. Murugan, hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, were among the panellists at the webinar.

The session was moderated by K.R. Palaniswamy, senior consultant gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals.

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