Obesity is a Major Risk Factor in Covid-19 Cases – Perhaps the Largest

Obesity linked to increased severity in Covid-19

Strong evidence that obesity is a major risk factor in Covid-19 severity and poses an increased risk of death has now been demonstrated across multiple studies around the world. The evidence all points to obesity as the preexisting condition with the largest impact on unfavorable outcomes, across all age groups.

The data is especially striking for younger adults, long thought to be at a much lower risk for serious illness from Covid-19. One NYU Langone study of 3,615 Covid patients under 60 years of age showed that “Patients with a BMI of 30-34 were twice as likely to get admitted to the hospital or to be admitted to acute care. Patients with a BMI of 35 or higher were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital, and three times as likely to end up in the intensive care unit.”

A CDC study found that of its patients, “89% had at least one underlying condition, with obesity being the most common for those between 18 and 64.” A Chinese study showed that obesity tripled the risk of a severe case versus those of normal weights.

Data from UK hospitalizations is even more stark, showing that obesity and metabolic syndrome are associated with a 10 times increase in death. In an article entitled “Covid 19 and the elephant in the room”, Dr. Aseem Malhotra states it bluntly; “OBESITY, THE REAL KILLER BEHIND COVID”

72.7% of patients admitted to ICU are overweight or obese and that those with the related metabolic syndrome have a tenfold increase in mortality from the virus.

Dr. Asseem Malhotra, NHS

Data from a set of studies in France recently published in The Lancet looked at the percentage of ICU patients with Covid that were obese versus the percentage of non-Covid ICU patients. It found a clearly higher rate of ICU admissions among obese patients for Covid vs other causes. This research is also anecdotally supported out of the NYC hospital data.

This blog has discussed the Obesity Epidemic many times before, and I’ve started examining some of the causes of it that are easier to control for. It was always clear that obesity & metabolic syndrome are important for far more than NASH, but this pandemic should serve as a clear wake-up call for the tens of millions of obese individuals around the world. We cannot hide from our health behind the well-intentioned shield of the Body Positivity movement. The warnings are now being shouted loud and clear:

“[P]eople with a body mass index of 30 or more should be taking the same precautions as someone over 65, regardless of their age.”

Dr. Carlos Galvani, Tulane Bariatric Center