Individuals considered obese are at a greater risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, according to recent studies.
A study published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that obese people with COVID-19 were nearly 75% more likely than people of a healthy weight to be hospitalized and placed in intensive care, and 48% more likely to die. Additionally, researchers have found that obese people diagnosed with COVID are 113% more likely to be hospitalized than those not obese.
Obesity is almost universally defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Severe obesity is a BMI of 40 or greater. Issues linked to obesity include, and exacerbated by COVID-19, include decreased lung capacity and impaired lung function.
“A constellation of physiological and social factors drives those grim numbers,” according to an article by sciencemag.org. “The biology of obesity includes impaired immunity, chronic inflammation, and blood that’s prone to clot, all of which can worsen COVID-19. And because obesity is so stigmatized, people with obesity may avoid medical care.”
Obesity is linked to other diseases considered to be independent risk factors of severe COVID — such as heart and lung disease and diabetes.
“They are also prone to metabolic syndrome, in which blood sugar levels, fat levels, or both are unhealthy and blood pressure may be high,” the article noted, pointing to a Tulane University study of 287 COVID-19 patients that found “metabolic syndrome itself substantially increased the risks of ICU admission, ventilation, and death.”
It’s also important to note that younger adults who are obese are not immune to severe COVID-19, as those types of cases have afflicted many people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.