Obesity increases risks of Covid-19, experts say

Written by Medika Natura

Formerly known as Orchid Life, Medika Natura is a pioneer in the end-to-end development, production and commercializing of botanical bio-active compounds native to Southeast Asia.

18 January 2021

Obese individuals who contract Covid-19 are seven times more likely to develop severe symptoms than people of normal/healthy weight.

A study published by the Obesity Society indicated that the odds of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms are seven times higher in obese individuals. In fact, the necessity for mechanical ventilation increased with rising BMIs (Body Mass Index), with 85.7% of severely obese patients requiring mechanical ventilators to breathe (1). Furthermore, higher BMIs were also associated with higher mortality rates as obese patients are at greater risk of developing severe forms of the disease, according to another report published in the Obesity Research and Clinical Practice Journal (2).

Other studies also indicate links between obesity and the severity of Covid-19. In a study published in Obesity Reviews, obese individuals are more likely to contract Covid-19 than healthy weight people and have worse outcomes including being more than twice as likely to need to be admitted to hospital; and once in hospital, they have a 74% higher chance of admission to an intensive care unit, and a 48% higher risk of death (3).

In order to stay fit amid a pandemic, the United Nations (UN) Interagency Task Force on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) recommends a healthy lifestyle of a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise. In addition to offering benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, a healthy lifestyle is also the first line of defense against obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the leading risk factors for severe cases of Covid-19.

1. de Siqueira, J., Almeida, L.G., Zica, B.O., et al. Impact of obesity on hospitalizations and mortality, due to COVID-19: A systematic review. Obesity research & clinical practice, 2020; 14(5): 298-403. Accessible at: 10.1016/j.orcp.2020.07.005. (Last accessed: 2 December 2020)

2. Simonnet A., Chetboun, M., Poissy, J., et al. High prevalence of obesity in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity. 2020; 28(7). Accessible at: 10.1002/ oby.22831. (Last accessed: 2 December 2020)

3. Popkin, B.M., Du, S., Green, W.D., et al. Individuals with obesity and COVID-19: A global perspective on the epidemiology and biological relationships. Obesity Reviews, 2020; 21(11): e131128. Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13128. (Last accessed: 11 December 2020)

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