Digital Media

6 January 2022

Bariatric Surgery and COVID-19


Long before the world had to deal with COVID, another pandemic lingered in the shadows. This pandemic affected the weight, lifestyle, and health of many across the world. The number of victims to this pandemic grew rapidly, mostly attributed to poor nutritional choices and lifestyles. This was the obesity pandemic that continues to this day and carries a huge influence on the COVID-19 pandemic.


The rise in obesity during the COVID-19

Extended lockdowns and time spent at home have resulted in most of the population living very sedentary lives. With little to no physical activity and overdependence on food as a way to quench both boredom and feelings of monotony, the pandemic has taken its toll on the weights of many. Obesity was a big enough issue even before the pandemic that has since been aggravated as COVID-19 has prolonged its stay in the year 2021, and possibly for the years to come.

Obesity as a risk factor for COVID-19

Obesity is directly linked to impaired immune function and as such increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Moreover, being obese may triple the risk of hospitalization due to the COVID infection. This is because obesity decreases lung capacity and can make ventilation more difficult. Obesity’s presence in the body comes with a chronic inflammatory state, resulting in excessive cytokine production and small proteins involved in an immune response. Similarly, the COVID-19 infection also triggers the body’s immune system to produce excess cytokines, which in turn tends to damage various organs. All of this data and further studies have led researchers to conclude that obesity is the single most potential risk factor for severe forms of COVID-19.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is an operation conducted on obese patients for their weight loss. The most interesting result of bariatric surgery that was found out is that patients that undergo this surgery were less likely to be hospitalized by COVID-19. “The disease has less severe effects on weight loss patients compared to those with obesity”.

Can the severity of COVID-19 be reduced through bariatric surgery?

A study conducted among a group of patients led to the findings which indicate that bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of COVID-19 complications. The study found that bariatric surgery significantly reduced the chances of hospitalization by 69% after being

infected with COVID-19. In addition, none of the patients who had bariatric surgery required intensive care, ventilation support or dialysis, and no one died.

Patients who were once obese and underwent bariatric surgery are shown to be healthier against the coronavirus. Those with obesity should consider this surgery for their wellbeing during the pandemic. However, as we all know, prevention is better than cure.


Healthy lifestyle to prevent the risks of developing obesity


Managing Body Mass Index takes discipline that is required on a daily basis. The following are some suggestions to ensure that the risk of obesity is as far away from you as possible:


• Limit the consumption of junk, processed, sugary, and other types of unhealthy foods


• Exercise regularly. Either use the gym frequently or play a sport on a daily basis


• Cut back on sedentary activities such as watching the television for extended periods of time


• Prioritize the good quality of sleep averaging at least 7 hours per day


• Reduce stress by identifying and eliminating factors that contribute to it



Dr. Venugopal Pareek

Consultant GI Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgeon