RESEARCHERS are tackling whether or not weight loss could be the key to tackling long covid.

A study at Glasgow University could bring “much-needed hope” to people experiencing the ongoing effects of the virus, supported by £1million of funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

There are currently no established treatments for these long-term cases, 10% of which experience symptoms for more than three months. These can include extreme tiredness, insomnia and shortness of breath. 

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Dr David Blane, who is a Clinical Research Fellow in General Practice and Primary Care at the university, said: “We’re delighted to be doing this research, working closely with people affected by long-Covid.

“We know that people with long-Covid are frustrated by the lack of treatment and support options currently available.”

The study will be led by Dr Blane and Dr Emilie Combet, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition.

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She highlighted that being overweight or obese “may worsen” symptoms and described how the “project will tailor and test a well-established weight management programme, delivered and supported entirely remotely.”

Such programmes can help reduce fatigue, breathlessness and pain for overweight adults, all of which are common symptoms with long Covid.

Professor Nick Lemoine, Chair of NIHR’s long Covid funding committee and Medical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said the research “will provide much needed hope to people with long-term health problems after Covid-19”.

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The trial will compare the results of 200 adults, half of which will receive the personalised programme for six months, before comparing results with the remaining participants who have not received the programme.

Following this, all participants will receive the same tailored programme for a further six months.

Run in collaboration with Counterweight, a weight-loss programme, the study is one of 15 across the UK looking to improve understanding of long-Covid.

Laura Sloman, Chief Operating Officer of Counterweight said: “Our Counterweight-Plus programme has been widely used by people looking to lose weight and achieve diabetes remission in order to reduce this risk. 

“Now we have the opportunity to investigate how following the programme may also improve recovery from long-Covid for those living with overweight and obesity.”