This One Thing "Does Not Protect You" Against Coronavirus, Research Shows
Experts say circulating Facebook posts promoting this idea aren't actually true.
With the coronavirus already having affected more than 17.3 million people worldwide, many hope that they're somehow already protected from the virus. Some may believe their young age will help them avoid feeling the worst effects of COVID, while others look to their healthy lifestyle as blanket protection. Unfortunately, it turns out neither of those can definitively keep you from getting seriously ill. Young people have experienced severe COVID-19 and have even died from the virus. And new research is debunking a highly circulated coronavirus idea: Being normal weight does not protect you against the coronavirus.
"If there was no risk in people who have normal weight, we would know that by now," Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, told USA Today. "That's not the case."
Sattar's comments follow numerous Facebook posts that have been circulating recently, asserting that certain healthy traits are protecting people from COVID, USA Today reports. The first post to circulate was posted by a page called Bodybuilders Against Tipping on July 22, which claims that COVID-19 "doesn't affect anyone under 10 percent body fat."
"The virus is only killing off obese people who never lifted weights or worked out a day in their lives," the post reads.
A second post circulated from the page Psychedelic Adventure, which lists certain lifestyle choices they say protect against the virus.
"Not sure who needs to hear this, but you have an immune system and if you managed your weight, avoided processed foods, didn't drink alcohol, exercise regularly, get proper sleep, get daily sunlight, consume no sugar and actually [care] about your health then your immune system and body will do its job and you won't have to be afraid of a virus or any disease," Psychedelic Adventure's post reads. "It's a crazy concept called being healthy."
Both posts have since been flagged by Facebook as "false information," but they can still be seen on the website. And in both posts, the writers boast about not wearing face masks.
There's still a lot we don't know about who carries immunity for the coronavirus, and why. Recently, T cells have been proposed as a possible new hope in terms of protection from COVID. But simply maintaining a certain weight is not going to provide immunity without a vaccine, "unless they've already had [the virus]," Leora Horwitz, MD, director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science at NYU Langone, told USA Today.
"It doesn't matter how healthy you are, how young you are, how few diseases you have, how many marathons you've run–nobody's immune," Horwitz says.
That's not to say that a healthier lifestyle may not offset the risk for a severe case, however. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does list obesity as a factor for increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. And according to Sattar, there does appear to be evidence that being healthier can "reduce your risks of severe outcomes," but it can't prevent you from getting severely sick or possibly dying from the virus. "Being normal weight does not protect you," Sattar says. And for more on COVID risk, This One Medication Could Raise Your Risk of Dying From COVID, Study Says.