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Discussion centers on obese, overweight Black community members and risks from COVID-19

PITTSBURGH — Last month, the CDC announced that an overwhelming majority of those who were hospitalized, needed a ventilator or died from COVID-19 were overweight or obese. A new study found that obese COVID-19 patients were more likely to require oxygen and had a greater chance of requiring invasive mechanical ventilation.

“80% of African American women are overweight or obese,” said activist Jasiri X.

A virtual panel of medical professionals was held Thursday evening to discuss issues related to the pandemic, including the risk to those overweight and obese in the Black community.

“Overweight becomes an issue when it’s impacting your health. If you can’t walk because your joints are impacted, it means you are carrying too much weight,” said Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. “Your organs, some people can’t sleep. They get sleep apnea. This is when it becomes a problem.”

The goal of the conversation was to find and explore ways to keep people healthy during the pandemic. But addressing the obesity problem in the Black community isn’t just simply about more exercise. Medical experts said it also requires a healthy diet.