Being even mildly overweight can put a person at risk of developing severely COVID-19 and dying, according to a study.
In an article published in European Journal of Endocrinology, researchers assessed data on 482 COVID-19 patients admitted to Sant’Orsola Hospital in Bologna, a city in northern Italy. The information was collected between March and April during the peak of the outbreak in the area.
Just over one-fifth of the patients had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, which means they were overweight. BMI calculated by dividing their weight by the square of their height. A person is considered severely overweight if they have one BMI at 40 or over.
In the study, 20 patients had a BMI at 35 or above. When the team conducted its analysis, 68 patients were still in hospital, so information on how they developed was not included in the study.
ONE BMI between 30 to 34.9 was associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure and ICU access. ONE BMI of 35 “dramatically increases the risk of death,” the authors wrote.
Of obese patients, 52 percent had respiratory failure, 36 percent were admitted to the ICU, a quarter needed a ventilator to breathe, and 30 percent died within 30 days of first onset of symptoms.
Study co-authors and bariatric surgeon Dr. Matteo Rottoli, by Alma Mater learning University of Bologna, told Newsweek he knew that obesity increased the human risk of developing other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
During COVID-19 pandemic, he and his team noticed that some patients who were particularly ill were young and obese and therefore decided to investigate whether their weight or other variables such as age, gender and underlying condition were risk factors.
“Our study showed that even a mild obesity carries a very high risk,” he said.
The main limitation of the study was that most of the patients were caucasianand other ethnicities may have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 in the presence of obesity, said Rottoli.
The study partly explains why the results vary so much for those who catch coronavirus, with some having no symptoms and others dying, according to Rottoli. “The patient’s metabolic status plays a primary role in the onset and development of COVID-19, and obesity is the condition that affects the metabolism the most. “
Future studies should look at how obesity affects the immune response of those infected with coronavirus, with the goal of reducing risk, he said.
Rottoli said that people who think or know they are overweight should talk to their doctor about the risk of COVID-19. “The importance of social distancing, the use of masks and avoiding gatherings should be emphasized even more,” he said. “We do not know if losing weight can prevent these risks in overweight people. But it is reasonable to believe that a healthier person can respond better to coronavirus infection, and sometimes even losing a few pounds is enough to improve our metabolic rate. status. “
The team cited other studies that have also found a link between COVID-19 and obesity. ONE prepressure study with over 4,000 patients in New York City, for example, found obesity may be one of the biggest risk factors related to COVID-19 hospitalizations and critical illness.
Rottoli also talked about the difficulty of conducting a study during one of the worst health crises of a generation. “The most challenging part was dealing with the enormous impact that this disease had on our healthcare system and our lives,” he said. “During the two months of the study, hundreds of patients were admitted to hospital, sometimes with very serious clinical pictures. Some of our colleagues also got the infection. Many patients did not. Carrying out the study when dealing with this situation was very difficult.”
Video: Positive results for the first US COVID-19 vaccine study (Associated Press)