Although metabolic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes have been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19, as well as an increased risk of experiencing serious symptoms once infected, the impact of diet on these risks is unknown.
In a recent study led by researchers at US-based Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in Gut, people whose diets were based on healthy plant-based foods had lower risks on both counts. The beneficial effects of diet on COVID-19 risk seemed especially relevant in individuals living in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation.
The researchers also found a synergistic relationship between poor diet and increased socioeconomic deprivation with COVID-19 risk that was higher than the sum of the risk associated with each factor alone.
“Our models estimate that nearly a third of COVID-19 cases would have been prevented if one of two exposures—diet or deprivation—were not present,” said the researchers.
The results also suggest that public health strategies that improve access to healthy foods and address social determinants of health may help to reduce the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.