Obesity is a common disease, affecting 42% of U.S. adults. It is a risk factor for other chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Obesity is also an important risk factor for severe outcomes from COVID-19, possibly due to long-term inflammation and a tendency to cause blood clots during severe infection. People with obesity often have problems with breathing, which makes COVID-19 very risky.
People with obesity should be a priority for vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently looked at the link between body mass index (BMI – a measure of obesity based on height and weight) and risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization, intensive care unit, mechanical ventilation, and death. Among 148,494 U.S. adults with COVID-19, there was a strong relationship between BMI and COVID-19 severity. For example, the higher your BMI (such as in overweight and obese people), the higher your risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. People with a healthy BMI had lower risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Overweight and obesity were risk factors for hospitalization, ventilation, and death, particularly among adults over 65 years.
We need to do more to tackle the obesity crisis
This shows us the importance of ensuring community access to nutrition and physical activities that promote and support a healthy BMI. In addition, we should continue to promote COVID-19 prevention, including vaccination and masks.