Tell the truth, have you put on the “quarantine 15?” Among other things, the pandemic hasn’t been kind to many of our waistlines, hence the oft-quoted quarantine 15 line about adding pounds due to inactivity during the coronavirus pandemic.

And once again it’s time for making the annual New Year’s “This is the year I’m taking off those extra pounds” resolution: The dreaded quarantine 15 for many.

Obesity increases health risks because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it: type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, among others. And those conditions increase your risk factors for COVID-19.

“Obesity has been one of the most common risk factors for severe disease from COVID-19, not only due to comorbidities such as diabetes, heart disease, and breathing problems including asthma and sleep apnea,” said Dr. Daniel Fang, a general and bariatric surgeon at Abrazo Central Campus and Abrazo Scottsdale Campus.

“Obesity itself worsens lung function, weakens the immune system and creates a state of chronic inflammation, all of which are important factors for fighting and recovering from what is primarily a respiratory viral illness. Many who have suffered a more serious illness or even death were more likely to be overweight,” said Dr. Fang, who also is medical director for bariatric surgery at Abrazo Central Campus and Abrazo Scottsdale Campus.

Obesity affects all families and communities, and no one is immune to weight gain. There are genetic and economic factors that increase the incidence of obesity in many groups. A diet of sugary and starchy simple carbohydrate dense foods make it difficult to process and store nutrients in a beneficial fashion.

When diet, exercise and medications have failed, it may be time to consider weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. You might also consider natural supplements for weight loss. Weight loss surgery may provide effective, lasting relief from severe obesity for appropriate patients, according to Dr. William Arnold, a general and bariatric surgeon at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus and medical director of the Abrazo General Surgery Residency Program. Dr. Arnold is medical director for bariatric surgery at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. population experiences obesity, and the numbers continue to increase. “Weight loss surgery is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and it can help alleviate many other obesity-related conditions,” he said.

Weight loss surgery is considered safe, but like any surgery, it does have risks, noted Dr. Hilario Juarez, a general and bariatric surgeon at Abrazo Central and Scottsdale Campuses.

“By changing your gastrointestinal anatomy, certain bariatric procedures affect the production of intestinal hormones in a way that reduces hunger and appetite and increases feelings of fullness. The end result is reduction in the desire to eat and in the frequency of eating,” he said.

“Those who are considering surgical weight loss are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a bariatric surgeon about the risks and benefits,” explained Dr. Mohan Ramalingam, who also practices at Abrazo Scottsdale and Central Campuses“Unlike dietary weight loss, surgical weight loss has shown to have a higher chance of lasting benefits because an appropriate energy balance is created.”

Obesity facts:

• Almost 3 in 4 men (73.7 percent) were considered to be overweight or have obesity; and about 2 in 3 women (66.9) were considered to be overweight or have obesity.

• Obesity was higher in women (about 40 percent) than men (35 percent)

• Extreme obesity was higher in women (9.9 percent) than men (5.5 percent)

Bariatrics is a medical specialty focusing on the treatment of obesity.  The Abrazo Medical and Surgical Weight Loss program is a holistic approach to bariatric weight loss that offers not just surgical options but includes nutrition, exercise and behavior modification.

Abrazo Health offers bariatric weight loss programs serving the Valley and beyond with compassionate weight loss team members and bariatric physicians who offer personalized weight loss wellness plans. For more information, visit