Junk food increases COVID-19 obesity risk

Obesity increases the risk of hospitalization in people with COVID-19, and junk food increases the risk of having obesity. 85.5% of people who died from COVID-19 in Peru had obesity.

niña huaraz gaseosa
A girl carrying a carbonated drink in Huaraz. Photo: Shane Fallon

KFC, McDonald’s, Bembos, «The Aunt Poison» (colloquial term for food street vendors in Peru). We have all eaten at our favorite fast food places. And unfortunately, these bad eating habits are already penetrated in our culture. But in times of quarantine and social distancing, these habits have become a risk of complications in patients with COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health in Peru reminded the population that the consumption of ultra-processed foods, or junk food, can generate diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and weaken the immune system. All this increases the risk that people will be hospitalized if they have COVID-19.

It is a vicious circle. The exaggerated consumption of junk food added to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity, causes an increase in people who become overweight and obese. Something to denote since currently, 85.5% of people who died from coronavirus disease suffered from obesity. In Peru, 60.1% of people aged 15 and over are overweight and obese. And Peruvians between 40 to 60 years old reach 71% of cases of overweight and obesity.

«Deaths from COVID-19 are related to life habits, particularly poor eating habits. When we eat, for example, a processed soft drink, cakes, and fried foods, our immune system is weakened, and if this is part of our daily consumption, it will cause diabetes, obesity and other diseases that will damage our body, «said Alexandro Saco, director of Promotion of the Health of MINSA.

Carlos Bruce - Tongo
Tongo (right) Congressman Carlos Bruce (left). Two public figures with apparent signs of overweight and obesity.

Through an Instagram post, Dr. Padilla tried to clarify the severity of suffering from obesity while having COVID-19 disease:

«I will explain it to you in the simplest way.
💡OBESITY equals inflammation thanks to all the inflammatory mediators that are present in fatty tissue.
💡 Obesity is frequently associated with:
😭Diabetes (more inflammation and less efficiency in the immune system)
😭Hypertension (more inflammation)
😭Sleep Apnea (More inflammation, less oxygenation, More respiratory restriction)
😭Fatty Liver Disease (more inflammation)
… then IF ON AN ALREADY INFLAMMED SURFACE, a pathogen is added that triggers even more inflammation, what will happen? Much more severe reactions and more complex prognosis.»
«The very fact of being at home for a long time may generate anxiety and we will indulge in foods in the house things that are not helping us. We are also used to these combos that give us […] pizza, plus soda, and for dessert ice cream. If I had a pizza craving at lunch, then I have some cookies midday and at dinner eat rotisserie chicken with fries, that diet is really flying in calories», said nutritionist Giuliana Saldarriaga in an interview for Salud en Casa.As an example, UK government has released a rule banning junk food advertising from 9 pm as part of the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus disease.

So, what to do? The Ministry of Health indicated that a healthy diet should be maintained. What does this consist of? Ingesting low cost and high nutritional value foods such as fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. As well as adding to this the daily physical activity of 30 minutes and consuming at least 2 liters of water daily, either boiled or in the form of infusions or soups.

Our Peruvian food, in the right amounts, already has enough nutrients for a correct balanced diet. Quinoa, stews, cau-cau, even the ceviche itself. It is up to Peruvians to improve their eating habits in pursuit of their health and care of their immune system.

sopa de quinua
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