President Trump and first lady Melania Trump revealed that they both tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with the former experiencing mild symptoms but remaining in “good spirits,” according to the White House chief of staff. The first lady later tweeted that she too is experiencing “mild symptoms but overall feeling good.”
Trump’s age, and his weight, put him at a higher risk for severe illness than his wife, but officials have not revealed whether either is receiving treatment for the virus while isolating.
In early June, the White House released a summary of the president’s annual physical, which listed him at 244 pounds and 6 feet, 3 inches tall. Based on calculations in accordance with the 74-year-old’s height and weight, Trump has a BMI of 30.5.
“Anyone over 30 BMI (body mass index) is obese,” Dr. David Buchin, an obesity specialist and director of bariatric surgery at Northwell Health-Huntington Hospital, told Fox News. “He really should be under 200 [pounds] for his height.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having obesity puts people at risk for many other serious chronic diseases and increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. One study conducted by the CDC found that obesity tripled the risk of hospitalization for coronavirus patients.
“The fat cells have a lot of inflammatory factors that I believe increase the risk for COVID-19 complications,” Buchin said, adding that research is ongoing. “COVID-19 is believed to be an inflammatory disease – the body’s response to the inflammation and how it responds to it determines how severe it gets.”
While it is not believed that Trump suffers from any obesity-related complications, comorbidities such as diabetes, sleep apnea and cardiac issues that are often seen with obesity also put patients at higher risk for complications.
“I think everyone should get as healthy as they can during this time period,” Buchin said. “Eat better, exercise, drop as much weight as you can to get down to a more normal weight. Everything gets better with weight loss – any comorbidities that a patient may have, like obstructive sleep apnea, get better with weight loss.”
Dr. Scott Atlas, a special adviser on coronavirus to Trump, told Fox News that he expects the president and first lady to make a “complete, full and rapid recovery,” adding that there was “zero reason to panic.” Atlas, who is not the president’s personal physician, went on to describe Trump as “a very, very healthy guy.”
Trump earlier this spring had completed a round of hydroxychloroquine after several staffers tested positive for COVID-19. He did not suffer any side effects from the treatment.