CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN)- We know that being overweight can have an impact on our everyday health, but now research from the Cleveland Clinic shows a link between obesity and having a severe case of COVID-19.

Studies show that obesity weakens your immune system and it can create an increase risk for cardiovascular disease as well as certain lung problems. All of these conditions can make you a high risk patient.

Your weight could have a negative impact on how your body fights COVID-19. The CDC has said that obesity is a risk factor in nearly 40% of Americans.

“Risk factors are huge during this pandemic. You know, I don’t believe people understand that. And I think that they forget weight is a risk factor,” said Cleveland Clinic employee Elizabeth Zehe.

However, studies show that substantial weight loss can significantly reduce your risk of severe COVID complications.

But this substantial weight loss isn’t all about simply eating your fruits and vegetables and getting exercise.

The Cleveland Clinic study specifically looked at those who had weight loss surgeries.

One Cleveland Clinic employee contracted COVID, but thanks to her significant weight-loss a decade earlier she only had a mild case. This week, the Cleveland Clinic published a study that showed that those who had weight-loss surgery had a 60% lower risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.

“We had near 5,000 patients with obesity who had bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic between 2004 and 2017 and we matched them, carefully matched them with over 15,000 patients with obesity who receive usual care,” said Dr. Ali Aminian, the lead author of the study.

Other studies have proven that obesity is a major risk factor for severe COVID.

Researchers looked at four COVID – 19 related outcomes: Contracting the infection, hospitalizations, need for supplemental oxygen, or need to be admitted into the ICU.

Those who underwent weight loss surgery over those who had not had a 49% lower risk of hospitalization,
a 63% lower risk needing supplemental oxygen, and a 60% lower risk of developing a severe form of the virus resulting in ICU admission.

This study is ongoing. Doctors are looking at the effects on the same patients next March.