Thursday, July 16, 2020

Why Obesity May Stack the Deck for COVID-19 Risk

By Brenda Goodman, MA

Obesity a Known COVID Risk

It has become clearer that people who are obese are one of the groups at highest risk from the disease, regardless of their age. The CDC recently refined its risk categories for COVID-19, stating that obesity was as big a risk for COVID as having a suppressed immune system or chronic lung or kidney disease. The agency also lowered the bar for where that risk starts -- from a BMI of 40 to a BMI of 30. Roughly 40% of Americans have a BMI over 30.

The CDC’s change in BMI risk comes after a British study of more than 17 million people found that people living with severe obesity were about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as people who were not obese. That was true even after other things like their age and sex were taken into account. The study also found that risk rises with the degree of obesity. The bigger a person, the higher their risk of a COVID-19 death.

During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, there was a strong link between obesity and bad outcomes for patients. People with obesity were at a higher risk of dying during flu pandemics in the 1950s and 1960s, too.  Read more >>