As blogged previously, there are many challenges that can result in weight gain during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, weight gain during COVID-19 is so common that it’s acquired a social media moniker of ‘The Quarantine 15’. People who struggled with weight before the pandemic will most often need additional help to navigate the COVID-related challenges.
Not only does weight gain increase the risk of a long list of health issues, but it also increases the risk of a COVID-19 infection being severe. A recent study found that for every 1 unit increase in BMI, there is a 13% increased risk of a COVID-19 infection being severe. A 15 pound (7kg) weight gain can increase BMI by several BMI units (depending on your height) – you can calculate your BMI here (using pounds and inches, or using kg and cm).
As COVID began, we all hoped that the disruption of our lives would be very short term. The care of many chronic health conditions (including obesity) were put on the backburner in many centres, in hopes that things would settle down and life would soon get back to normal. Across the globe, many clinics providing outpatient care for chronic medical problems have been closed to anything but emergencies, or closed altogether.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is not going away anytime soon. It’s a reality that we all have to face. Chronic medical conditions, including obesity, must not be neglected or forgotten during this time – it is simply not acceptable to delay forward steps in treatment until the pandemic is over.
Fortunately, virtual medicine has come to the rescue in many countries, to help us continue to treat obesity without pause during the pandemic. With some good preparation ahead of virtual appointments, excellent obesity care can be provided. The care that can be provided virtually includes nutritional and psychological support; starting and continuing obesity medication; and supporting patients who are in the pre- or postoperative stages of bariatric surgery.
Here are some things that you can do to enhance your virtual care experience:
- Patients: provide your medication list to your doctor’s office; navigate tech issues ahead of time with clinic staff; measure your weight, blood pressure, heart rate at home if possible; email glucose records (if you have diabetes)
- Health care professionals: reviewing charts in advance; navigating tech issues (eg how to get around blocked calls); access to prior labs online
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