Weight: Possibly the biggest modifiable risk factor for COVID-19
The World Obesity Federation has just published a fascinating study on overweight and obesity in relation to COVID-19 and other viral respiratory diseases. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping revelation in the report is found in the Executive Summary. It states:
This report shows that in countries where less than half the adult population is classified as overweight*, the likelihood of death from COVID-19 is a small fraction – around one tenth – of the level seen in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight. Of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported by the end of February 2021, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.COVID-19 and Obesity: The 2021 Atlas. The cost of not addressing the global obesity crisis
We have known for a while that excess weight is a risk factor for serious illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. For instance, in November 2020 the British Heart Foundation updated its website to reflect the following as risk factors for coronavirus:
- Being a man
- Having an underlying heart condition
- Being overweight or obese
- Your ethnic background
- Your job
- Where you live
However, what is notable about the World Obesity Federation review is that, in contrast with the BHF, it is more definitive about the influence of being overweight. The World Obesity Federation states, “increased bodyweight is the second greatest predictor of hospitalisation and a high risk of death for people suffering from COVID-19. Only old age rates as a higher risk factor.”
Supporting this conclusion are a series of graphical representations of findings from studies. These are shown below:
In addition to this, the review answers some key questions in relation to overweight and obesity in the context of COVID-19. We recommend that you read the review in full here. However (Spoiler Alert!), if you just want a quick summary of the questions and answers, we provide them on the slideshow below.
We trust this has whetted you appetite for the review. Head over to the World Obesity Federation website and read it in full.