Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Severe obesity raises risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation and death, study finds

NEW YORK — Over the past year, many scientific teams around the world have reported that obese people who contract the coronavirus are especially likely to become dangerously ill.

Health workers care for a Covid-19 patient at an Intensive Care Unit of the Ronaldo Gazolla Public Municipal Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 5, 2021.

Health workers care for a Covid-19 patient at an Intensive Care Unit of the Ronaldo Gazolla Public Municipal Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 5, 2021.

NEW YORK — Over the past year, many scientific teams around the world have reported that obese people who contract the coronavirus are especially likely to become dangerously ill.

Now, a large new study, of nearly 150,000 adults at more than 200 hospitals across the United States, paints a more detailed picture of the connection between weight and Covid-19 outcomes.

The study, performed by a team of researchers as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has confirmed that obesity significantly increases the risk for hospitalisation and death among those who contract the virus.

And among those who are obese, the risk increases as a patient’s body mass index, or BMI, a ratio of weight to height, increases.

Patients with a BMI of 45 or higher, which corresponds to severe obesity, were 33 per cent more likely to be hospitalised and 61 per cent more likely to die than those who were at a healthy weight, the researchers found.

“The findings of the study highlight the serious clinical public health implications of elevated BMI, and they suggest the continued need for intensive management of Covid-19 illness, especially among patients affected by severe obesity,” said the lead author, Dr Lyudmyla Kompaniyets, a health economist at the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC.

But the relationship between weight and outcomes is nuanced. Covid-19 patients who were underweight were also more likely to be hospitalised than those who were at a healthy weight.

Dr Kompaniyets and her colleagues found that obesity, which is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher, increased the risk of both hospitalisation and death. Patients with a BMI of 30 to 34.9 were just 7 per cent more likely to be hospitalised and 8 per cent more likely to die than people who were at a healthy weight, but the risks increased sharply as BMI rose.

“This just provides further evidence for the recommendation to vaccinate those with a high BMI as early as feasible,” said Dr Sara Y Tartof, an infectious disease public health researcher at the Department of Research & Evaluation at Kaiser Permanente, who was not involved in the study. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Related topics

Covid-19 virus obesity health

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.