Belly Fat and Covid 19
It is well established that belly fat (or visceral abdominal fat - VAT) creates both short term and long term risk for disease. Visceral fat surrounds your organs inside your torso, and is mostly linked to Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease risk.
Apparently, having an elevated level of belly fat is also linked to more severe outcomes from Covid 19. A series of research studies have examined this link both in Asia and in Europe. It appears that there is a high density of Covid 19 receptors in visceral abdominal fat, and that amongst people of the same BMI (same weight for height), those with larger deposits of visceral fat are at a higher risk.
An excerpt from one of the studies is shown below:
Excess visceral fat (VF) or high body mass index (BMI) are risk factors for severe COVID-19. The receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is expressed at higher levels in the VF than in the subcutaneous fat (SCF) of obese patients. (Metabolism. 2021 Feb; 115: 154440.
In addition to this, studies from Asia indicate that even non-obese people who have higher levels of visceral fat are at an elevated risk of severe Covid 19 outcomes. So even if your BMI is below the general obesity cut off of 30, you are at a higher risk if you have more abdominal body fat.
Getting your abdominal body fat assessed, and actively working to reduce your visceral abdominal fat is the best combination to understand and then reduce your risk. Eating more vegetables, staying away from refined and high caloric density foods, as well as moving more daily, will go a long way in terms of trimming down your belly fat. Getting a body composition scan, such as what we offer at Victoria Body Composition will give you more information about the amount of visceral fat you are carrying as well as track changes as you go.
Any reductions you can safely make in your visceral fat will not only likely reduce the impact of any potential Covid exposure, but will also work in your favor regarding longer term risk of chronic disease.
Keep fit, stay strong, and live well!