Nutritionist Kaye Osborne explores how tackling the root cause of obesity is key to improve Covid-19 outcomes
Obesity is one of the biggest health crises our country faces. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese, with related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.
While these statistics are not new, the urgency of tackling this time bomb has been brought to the fore by evidence that being obese or excessively overweight increases the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19.
Like any nutritional therapist, I was quick to recognise the link between obesity and poor Covid-19 outcomes and within the first few weeks of lockdown offered free nutritional advice to anyone wishing to listen! The response was phenomenal and just a few weeks later, I had given nutritional advice on healthy eating and weight loss to over 120 people!
Since then, statistics have shown two-thirds of those in the UK who have fallen seriously ill with Covid-19 have been overweight or obese and 99 percent of Covid-19 deaths in Italy have been in patients with pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. These conditions, collectively known as metabolic syndrome, are linked to impaired immune function, which leads to poor Covid-19 outcomes.
A major factor that drives the pathophysiology of metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance, defined as an impaired biological response to insulin – the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. The dysregulation of blood glucose levels plays an important role in inflammation and respiratory disease, and therefore Covid-19 outcomes.
In response, the government has recently launched a healthy living campaign called ‘Better Health’. Led by Public Health England, this campaign aims to help people take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle. I’m pleased to see that as part of the campaign the government is putting an end to discounted deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food laden with fat, sugar and salt, and also banning adverts before 9pm for the same group of unhealthy food. However, I am perplexed as to why they are still encouraging calorie counting and continue to put fats in the same naughty corner as sugar and salt.
Remember, obesity is a symptom of metabolic syndrome; a condition driven by raised blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. We also know the most significant factor that determines insulin resistance is the consumption of dietary carbohydrate, that is, refined carbs, starches and simple sugars. By advising us to eat a low-fat diet, the government is, by default, encouraging us to choose a diet high in carbohydrates, and this is only going to exacerbate hyperglycaemia and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
The government has partnered with all the big names in the weight loss industry whose main emphasis is to lose weight by reducing the number of calories you eat. This weight loss method may work in the short-term – that is up until the time your metabolism correspondingly slows down! Indeed, research shows the overwhelming majority of people who count calories not only regain the weight within a few years, but many end up heavier than when they started!
Since those early days of lockdown, when I offered nutritional advice to anyone wanting to listen, I have developed a six-week online programme called ‘Lose Weight Without Counting Calories’ – and it does just that! This programme focuses on reducing insulin resistance and chronic inflammation with nutrition and lifestyle changes. It’s not just weight loss, participants of the programme have reported needing less diabetic and anti-hypertensive medication and have noticed an improvement in other areas of their health, such as mood and energy levels.
Always remember, obesity is a symptom of metabolic syndrome, not a cause. It is complex and multifactorial, but to truly improve Covid-19 outcomes, I believe we should all be focusing on the root cause of obesity and not just on counting calories! If you’d like to know more about Osborne Nutrition Weight Loss Programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Kaye Osborne
Kaye Osborne is a registered nurse and nutritional therapist with over 35 years clinical experience under her belt!
Specialising in gut health, weight loss, metabolic and autoimmune conditions, Kaye runs a private practice near Winchester in Hampshire.