Long Island officials put residents on diet program to combat quarantine-induced stress eating
Residents of a town in Long Island are part of an experiment where participants will follow a strict diet and exercise regime to keep a health condition at bay.
The condition dubbed "Quarantine 15" or "Covid-10" is due to stress eating. Officials fear that weight gain could put residents of the town of Huntington at risk of severe infection.
Increased stress is leading to a lot of emotional eating, Suffolk County Legislator Dr William Spencer said at a press conference, admitting that he had gained a few pounds himself.
Joining Dr Spencer in revealing the details of the program were Huntington Clerk Andrew Raia and Huntington Hospital's Director of Bariatric Surgery Dr David Buchin. They hope the initiative could improve the chances of survival among residents.
"Set a new lifestyle for yourself, take the necessary steps to turn things around. Because this virus is going to be with us for some time," Raja said at the press conference.
Officials have teamed up with fitness instructors to introduce a voluntary healthy lifestyle and exercise program. The town, which is home to 200,000 residents, will receive the service for free.
Dr Buchin is steering the nutritional component of the program. He will conduct several Facebook live events advising people on topics related to the threats of obesity and how people can combat stress eating. As for the exercise part, a local boutique gym will offer free online fitness and yoga classes to residents.
The initiative comes amid reports of how severe obesity impacts Covid-19 patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above can put people at higher risk for complications, including respiratory distress.
Besides, obese patients tend to have multiple other serious diseases and other underlying conditions, which can worsen the disease.
The underlying conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, all of which increase the risk of death from the disease. The CDC released data on the prevalence of obesity among hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 48% had the condition.
What is more, other viral infections also hit patients with obesity more severely. One study suggested that flu patients with obesity are more infectious than others and that they could be contributing to the disease spread.
These effects can be attributed to how obesity alters the functioning of the immune system. Its response to an infection could make breathing difficult in these patients, the study said.
"With Covid-19, you are twice as likely to have a poor outcome if you are obese. So it's very important that we get fit and we get healthier," Dr Buchin, who is tasked with managing the program, said.
The team hopes that the program catches on in other parts of the country as well as obesity levels are rising in the US. The CDC estimates that 42.4%of the population were obese from 2017 to 2018.
"I'm hoping that we start with Huntington and it kind of spreads across the country because it's a very serious thing," he added.