Obesity: the New Risk Factor for Covid-19 Severity

We know that data collected from Covid-19 studies across the globe shows that age is a common risk factor in the severity of the disease. Put simply, older people get sicker from Covid-19. In Canada, patients 60 and over make up only 36% of Covid-19 cases, but 67% of hospitalizations and 95% of fatalities. Now, research from New York City has found a new relationship between obesity and Covid-19.

In their study conducted throughout March 2020, Jennifer Lighter and colleagues from New York University Langone Health, found an unusually high percentage of obese young people (<60 years old) were more than twice as likely to be admitted to acute and critical for treatment of Covid-19, than thinner patients.(1)

They looked at 3615 people who tested positive; 775 (21%) had a body mass index (BMI) 30-34, and 595 (16% of the total cohort) had a BMI >35. Their analysis showed a significant difference in admission to ICU among patients <60 years of age with varying BMIs. Younger patients, defined as less than 60 years old, with BMIs 30-34 were 2.2 times more likely to be admitted to acute and critical care, and those < 60 with a BMI > 35 were 3.6 times more likely, compared to people with BMI’s <30 of the same age. (2) Even though younger people are generally considered lower risk, this study shows that obesity is a health factor when it comes to this new coronavirus.

In Canada, 20% of adults 18-39 and 31% of 40-59 year olds are considered medically obese.(3) Obesity is frequently considered a risk factor in cardiovascular health impacting blood pressure and diabetes. It now appears that being significantly overweight can make the Covid-19 illness more severe.

Stay healthy and stay safe.

Author: Mark Beaton, Sr. Vice President of Marketing, BIOS Medical


[1,2]Obesity in patients younger than 60 years is a risk factor for Covid-19 hospital admission
Authors: Jennifer Lighter MD, Michael Phillips MD, Sarah Hochman MD, Stephanie Sterling MD, Diane Johnson MD, Fritz Francois MD, Anna Stachel, MPH
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases; 2Department of Infection Prevention and Control; Department of Infectious Diseases
NYU School of Medicine/NYU Langone Health, New York NY

[3] Obesity in Canadian Adults, 2016 and 2017, Statistics Canada. Canadian Health Measures Survey

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