Two Pandemics Coalition: Covid-19 and Obesity

Anca Hâncu 1  and Florin Mihălţan 2
  • 1 Nutriscience Clinic, , Bucharest
  • 2 “Carol Davila” University, , Bucharest


COVID-19 epidemic caused by an influenza-like virus strain (SARS-CoV-2) invaded the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this infection outbreak as a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. From one day to another the number of new cases is growing and also the number of deaths. This infection emerged earlier in Wuhan City and rapidly spread throughout China and around the world since December 2019. Another silent pandemic disease spreading mainly in industrialized countries is obesity. The best example is US were about 34% of the Americans are obese.

In actual context, it can be said there is a coalition of 2 pandemics. In Romania, obesity and overweight prevalence assessed by Predatorr study is at a high level: 34,7% overweight and 31,9% obesity. Systemic inflammation in obesity is the central mechanism leading to lung function decline. There are two main questions a) is obese more sensible to viral infection or b) potentially more contagious? The answer is positive to both. Recent WOF official position stated that obesity is a risk factor for developing severe forms of COVID-19. Donna Ryan’s message, as president of World Obesity Federation WOF, US emphasized at the beginning of April the risk for severe complications for persons with obesity who contracted the infection with SARS-CoV-2. Nutritional support in COVID-19 should prefer oral feeding, whenever is possible. A special attention should be dedicated to a healthy microbiome and intestinal immunity. Energy intake should be 25-30 kcal/body weight, with 1.2-2 g/kg proteins. Enteral nutrition will be recommended in severe cases. Evidence is supporting the recommendation that for people at risk of developing COVID-19 to consider for few weeks a dosage of 10000 UI/day of vitD3, than a maintainance dose of 5000 UI/day. The target must be to stabilize a level of 40-60 ng/ml for 25(OH) D concentration. Pulmonary rehabilitation, smoking cessation, included in a healthy lifestyle will be further steps after patients recovery from this infection.

Facing this pandemic coalition, our messages should be stronger in stimulating prevention of obesity. Since more than a half of Romanian population is already overweight or obese, healthy lifestyle should become a daily prescription, not just a luxury recommendation. Daily, right messages from doctors acting like role models, in a partnership between general practitioner and other specialties like diabetologists, pneumologists, cardiologists, nutritionists will be efficient weapons against this cruel coalition: Obesity and COVID 19.

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