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The town of Huntington, New York has implemented a voluntary community-wide diet and exercise program intended to combat potential complications of the coronavirus. 

Early evidence suggests that obesity and related health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes could  be linked to more severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

Some experts have argued it’s too early to blame obesity for coronavirus deaths, and that weight stigma could do more harm than good. 

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The entire town of Huntington, New York, has implemented a new diet and exercise program to prevent possible obesity-related complications of coronavirus. 

The program was announced in a press release Wednesday by Dr. William Spencer, Suffolk County Legislator, and Dr. David Buchin, an obesity specialist and director of bariatric surgery at Northwell Health-Huntington. 

It includes nutrition tips, including cutting out junk food and adding fruits and vegetable. The program also features meal planning, fitness and yoga classes online from local studios, regular weigh-ins, and Facebook Live events with a bariatric doctor, Newsday reported. 

Huntington, located in Suffolk County, Long Island, has over 200,000 residents. It would be the first town in the US to implement a diet program, according to the press release.

Spencer cited evidence that people with obesity and other health complications like diabetes and high blood pressure may face more severe cases of COVID-19. 

Emerging research suggests that particularly severe obesity can be a risk factor for coronavirus complications, but that data is preliminary, as Business Insider’s Anna Miller previously reported. Weight-related stigma has also been linked to worse health outcomes, dietitians previously told Insider.  

There’s also some evidence that significant weight loss could potentially weaken the immune system. Changing your eating routine and cutting calories too much can increase levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that also affects your metabolism and blood sugar. 

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Overall, eating a varied diet, high in fruits and vegetables, staying active, getting plenty of sleep, and managing stress are good strategies for health, including in a pandemic. 

Read more:

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Coronavirus anxiety and quarantining could increase eating disorder risk. Here’s what to look out for.

Intermittent fasting may be a bad idea during the coronavirus pandemic, according to experts

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