A new study suggests that most COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States are linked to four pre-existing common conditions: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure. For example, among 900,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past year, 30% occured in people with obesity; 26% in people with high blood pressure (hypertension); 21% in people with diabetes; and 12% in people with heart failure. Researchers discovered that almost 64% of all hospitalizations were directly related to these conditions. These hospitalizations may have been prevented if patients did not have those four conditions.
Minorities at high risk
Researchers found that age and race/ethnicity were linked to disparities in COVID-19 hospital admissions among people with these four conditions. For example, COVID-19 hospitalizations were more common in older adults (over 65 years) with diabetes compared to younger adults (under 50 years) with diabetes. Race and ethnicity are also big factors. At any age, more Black and Hispanic people than White people were hospitalized for COVID-19 with a pre-existing condition. Also, COVID-19 hospitalizations were higher in Black and Hispanic people with diabetes than in White people with diabetes. Diabetes was linked to about 25% of COVID-19 hospitalizations among Whites, 32% among Blacks, and 34% among Hispanics aged 65 and older. Overall, the four common conditions were related to about 39% of COVID-19 hospitalizations among White people and 50% of hospitalizations among Black people aged 18 to 49 years.
Unhealthy diet increases risk from COVID-19
Globally, poor nutrition is the biggest contributor to disease, and it can also increase risk related to COVID. One researcher in this study called for public health messages on reducing diabetes and obesity as a way to reduce severe COVID disease. “If individuals exercised a little more and ate a bit more healthily, we would see improvements in diabetes and hypertension in just a few weeks. We should be shouting this from the rooftops, along with the messages to wash hands, social distance, and wear masks.”