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Deb Gordon

Deborah D. Gordon has spent her career trying to level the playing field for healthcare consumers. She is co-founder of Umbra Health Advocacy, a marketplace for patient advocacy services, and co-director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, the premiere membership organization for independent advocates. She is the author of "The Health Care Consumer's Manifesto: How to Get the Most for Your Money," based on consumer research she conducted as a senior fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Deb previously spent more than two decades in healthcare leadership roles, including chief marketing officer for a Massachusetts health plan and CEO of a health technology company. Deb is an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow and a Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree. Her contributions have appeared in JAMA Network Open, the Harvard Business Review blog, USA Today, RealClear Politics, The Hill and Managed Care Magazine. She earned a BA in bioethics from Brown University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

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The Intersection of Long Covid and Obesity

The Intersection of Long Covid and Obesity

What you need to know about long Covid and the role weight may play

Conditions & Treatments

Medically reviewed by Mike Myint, M.D., MBA

Infographic The Intersection of Long Covid and Obesity. Click the image to open the PDF

What is long Covid?

Long Covid, which is sometimes called post-Covid conditions, is when Covid symptoms last 4 weeks or more after the initial infection.

Almost 1 out of 3 people who get Covid report having long Covid.

Because Covid is new, scientists don’t know everything about long Covid yet.

Common symptoms of long Covid

Most people who have long Covid report that symptoms limit their daily activities. About 1 in 4 people report significant impairments.

Long Covid can take many forms but some common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog

How does obesity relate to long Covid?

Living with obesity increases the risk of severe Covid and for developing long Covid. Obesity can make Covid worse because it can:

  • Weaken the immune system response
  • Make lung function worse
  • Cause inflammation of the body, which is an overreaction of the immune system and can make Covid symptoms last longer

Do Covid vaccines help with long Covid?

Studies show that having at least 2 Covid vaccines lowers the risk of developing long Covid.

Does your weight change how well Covid vaccines work?

People who get vaccinated are less likely to get severe Covid than people who are not vaccinated, no matter what their weight is.

But research has shown that vaccinated people who have underweight or overweight are at higher risk of getting very sick from Covid than vaccinated people with a healthy weight.

If you have obesity, it’s important to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you’ve been exposed to Covid-19.

This resource was created with support from Pfizer.

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