Maintaining healthy body weight and increasing HDL as ‘good’ cholesterol levels may lower the risk of COVID-19 infections, researchers claim in a new study.
Previous studies have shown that people with Type 2 diabetes and a high body mass index are at greater risk of experiencing hospitalizations and other serious complications related to COVID-19.
However, the University of Maryland’s new study in the US has identified certain life factors such as body weight and cholesterol as new risk factors for COVID-19.
“Our findings point to some healthy measures that people can take to reduce their risk of COVID-19 infection,” said Charles Hong, a professor of medicine at the University’s School of Medicine.
“Body weight control is very important at this time, and measures to increase HDL levels such as regular exercise and a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil and avocados may also be helpful,” Hong said.
The team found that people who were COVID positive were more likely to be obese or have Type-2 diabetes. They also had a greater risk of getting symptomatic infection in the first place, the researchers claimed.
On the other hand, those who tested negative were more likely to have high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and were at a healthy weight with a normal body mass index (BMI), the study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
“Certain baseline cardiometabolic factors seem to protect a person against Covid-19 infection, while others make a person more vulnerable to infection,” Hong said.
“But this study was not designed to determine what factors actually cause Covid-19 infections. These are statistical associations that point to the importance of a healthy functioning immune system for protection against COVID-19 infection,” Hong added.
For the study, the team used data from the UK Biobank of 5,00,000 British volunteers over 40 years. Health factors were compared between those who tested positive for Covid-19 and those who tested negative.