In a new study, scientists have found that people who walk slowly are more likely to get infected by a severe and critical form of coronavirus. These findings were reported in the online preprint platform, medRxiv. These findings are not yet peer reviewed.
Scientists from United Kingdom found out that both obesity and walking pace are independently associated with the increased risk of severe COVID-19.
— medRxiv (@medrxivpreprint) July 11, 2020
However, slow walkers had the highest risk of severe COVID-19 regardless of their obesity status, with normal weight, overweight or obese slow walkers all having over twice the risk of severe COVID-19 compared to normal weight brisk walkers.
These findings suggest that traditional factors associated with cardio-metabolic diseases can also act as risk factors for COVID-19.
In this study scientists wanted to see how significant factors that have been linked with cardiovascular health previously affect the severity of coronavirus in patients as well.
So, they obtained data from UK Biobank, which has been collecting data of 502,543 individuals living within 25 miles of one of the 22 study assessment centers located throughout England, Scotland and Wales for previous studies.
Body Mass Index and walking paces were of all the individuals in the study were noted down. BMI of less than 24.9 kg/m2 was defined as normal, 25-29.9 kg/m2 as overweight, and more than 30kg/m2 as obese. Habitual walking was categorized as slow (<3mph), steady/average (3-4 mph), or brisk (>4 mph).
There were 414,201 individuals with complete data to be included in the final study, 972 of which developed a severe COVID-19 infection.
The data after analysis showed that both walking pace and obesity status dictated if a person would have a severe infection or not.
Compared to normal weight individuals, the adjusted odds ratio of severe COVID-9 in overweight and obese individuals was 1.25 and 1.49, respectively. Compared to those with a brisk walking pace, the odds ratio of severe COVID-19 in steady/average and slow walkers was 1.15 and 1.84, respectively.
The data showed that compared to normal weight brisk walkers, obese steady/average and obese slow walkers had a higher odds of severe COVID-19, but not obese brisk walkers.
However, compared to normal weight brisk walkers, the odds of severe COVID-19 in slow walkers was over 2 time greater across all categories of obesity status.
Though obesity has been established as a risk factor for coronavirus infection already, the new development is that walking pace may also indicate the likelihood of a person suffering from severe infection.
This really isn't surprising. Three months ago my statistical modelling was indicating that two factor primary could explain Covid-19 deaths – age and obesity. My models indicated that as much as 50% of US Covid-death relative to Scandinavia could be explained by obesity. https://t.co/x5MdD7Mess
— Lars Christensen (@MaMoMVPY) July 5, 2020
Obesity has emerged as a risk factor for developing severe illness from COVID-19. HMS’ @fstanfordmd is looking at severity of disease among COVID-19 patients who have obesity to understand why. (via @WCVB) https://t.co/KreNjYXVTN
— Harvard Medical School (@harvardmed) July 9, 2020
The scientists working on the research paper concluded that as walking is a combination of many functions in the body like motor control, musculoskeletal health, cardiorespiratory fitness, habitual activity levels, cognition, and even mental health, it can signal if a person is healthy enough to sustain the disease.
They suggest that these factors together may act to give individuals greater resilience to SARS-CoV-2 infection and so he or she is less likely to get a severe form of the disease.
Obesity has been liked with coronavirus disease since the beginning of the pandemic, the evidence is so mounting that United Kingdom government is actually organizing a weight loss drive in order to prepare for the next wave of the pandemic.
Downing Street is calling the initiative as a “war against obesity”. The initiative comes after the Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, needed intensive care treatment for Covid-19 himself, which in thought was linked to his obesity status.
In England, 64% of adults are classed as overweight or obese and 29% as obese as measured by BMI, among the highest levels in Europe. We are currently working with clients with PT and weight loss plans. @one2onediet https://t.co/qCQnt2WwQL #slimdown #obesity
— betterbodies (@better_bodiesuk) July 11, 2020
"We welcome the Prime Minister’s reassessment and prioritisation of #obesity in the UK. The increased risk of COVID-19 on people living with obesity has illuminated the need for increased care."
Read the OPEN UK response to the PM's latest comments here: https://t.co/etil8PmWT4 pic.twitter.com/QJ82nEMT1A
— Obesity UK (@ObesityUK_org) July 3, 2020
Now the government in light of all the scientific evidence and the push from the Prime Minister is organizing this weight loss drive so people can lose weight in the next few months, before an anticipated resurgence in coronavirus cases in the autumn.
The UK has experienced the highest death rate from coronavirus in Europe, and many experts have said that one potential factor may be high rates of obesity and associated lifestyle-linked conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which are strongly associated with worse Covid-19 outcomes.
It is important to note that in England, 64% of adults are overweight or obese. In United States, 42.2 percent of all adults are obese. This makes a large proportion of the people in these two countries vulnerable to severe coronavirus infection.