The Dreadful Link Between Obesity, Stress, Immunity and Covid-19

OBESITY: Obesity, a complex disease that involves the deposition of excessive fat all over the body, is the rising Pandemic and a global threat today. Obesity usually occurs from childhood due to uncontrolled food habits, lack of exercise or genetically and may expose the victim to high-risk diseases in the future. A person with a BMI >25 may be considered overweight, and if the BMI > 27.5, he or she will fall under the bracket named Obese.

STRESS: Stress in common language can be termed as an the experience that causes physical, psychological or emotional tension making the adrenal glands release adrenaline into the bloodstream leading to high BP, increased pulse rate and breathlessness. It is a condition when the anticipated perceptions or outcome does not match the desired expectations which cause compensatory responses called the stress response leading to mental Stress. The other type of stress can be caused by lack of sleep, inflammation, pain etc. causing Acute Stress responses and Chronic Stress. Acute Stress is associated with the fight and flight response while Chronic Stress with the levels of Glucocorticoids in the Obese.

Studies with evidence in the past have revealed the direct relationship between Obesity and Stress. The stress hormone Cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone, has been identified to cause the deposition of white adipose tissue in the abdominal region of the victim enhancing the appetite and coaxing him or her to consume energy-rich food with a high glycemic index resulting in lack of sleep leading to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Continuous exposure to a high level of glucocorticoid, tend to develop abdominal obesity in the victim leading to Metabolic Syndrome, High-risk diseases and finally Cardio Vascular Diseases. Studies have disclosed the correlation between Obesity, Stress and Glucocorticoid action where they interact together to increase the potency of each other. In other words, the Obese are exposed to higher levels of Glucocorticoid than others and tend to have more Stress, especially Chronic Stress.

IMMUNITY SYSTEM: The immune system is a galaxy of tiny cells travelling in the bloodstream bathing every organ and defending them against foreign bodies called antigens, like bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells. The white blood cells are the main immune system, which are of two types, the lymphocytes and phagocytes. The lymphocytes can be further divided into two categories, the B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies into the fluid surrounding the body cells to destroy any bacteria or virus while the T cells work in a different strategy. If an invading cell enters a body cell the T cell entraps it and then multiplies and destroys it. An Obese person is prone to chronic Stress accounting for the constant high levels of stress hormones which tend to bring down the number of lymphocytes in the bloodstream making the immunity system impaired and more susceptible to infection.

COVID-19: Covid-19 caused by the coronavirus, which enters healthy cells and by making copies of itself multiplies throughout the body. It is transmitted by an infected person through very fine droplets while sneezing or coughing and may stay in the next victim for two to fourteen days before reaching the lungs. During this period, the immunity system tends to fight back with the symptoms related to the disease. If the immunity system is good, the virus can be defeated but with an impaired immunity system in an Obese, the struggle will not be easy.

Thus the Obese are more prone to Covid-19.

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