Changing the conversation about health

Make yourself ‘as fit as possible’ to beat COVID-19 second wave, says deputy Chief Medical Officer

The UK’s deputy Chief Medical Officer has urged people to lose weight and get fit to equip themselves against a potential second wave of COVID-19.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Dr Jenny Harries said it was now proven that being overweight negatively affected outcomes for those infected with coronavirus.

Speaking to presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, Dr Harries said millions of UK residents could ensure they’re in better shape to beat a second wave by keeping themselves healthy.

The deputy Chief Medical Officer told the programme the virus was very much ‘still out there’ and said she was ‘very, very concerned’ about the impact of another wave of the virus.

Urging people not to be complacent during the summer when the virus is likely to weaken, the public health chief said it was important to use those months to become healthier if possible and continue to social distance.

She said: ‘Make yourself as fit as possible [and] keep practising that social distancing over the winter.’

London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, appearing on BBC News in April, said that ‘the immune system doesn’t function optimally’ if you’re overweight

In an interview with BBC News in April, London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra stressed the impact being overweight could have on the body.

He said: “We know from previous flu data that excess body fat is thought to cause a dysregulated immune system. In other words, the immune system doesn’t function optimally and when you get infections like the flu – you’re more like to die.”

He continued: “If you eat too much ultra-processed food even if you’re a normal weight then your body is chronically getting mildly damaged and that results in a process called chronic inflammation.

“It appears that when you have an acute infection on top of that, the combination of the excess body fat and the chronic inflammation seems to be particularly detrimental.”

University of Liverpool researchers warned in May that being overweight increased the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 37 per cent.