While many conditions associated with or exacerbated by obesity (eg, diabetes, heart disease) have been tied to greater risk for patients who become infected with COVID-19, a study just published in the European Journal of Endocrinology suggests that obesity is an independent risk factor for severe disease and death with the virus. Researchers analyzed the outcomes of 482 patients with COVID-19 who were hospitalized between March 1 and April 20, 2020. Of those patients, 58% had a BMI over 25 kg/m2. Risk of respiratory failure and ICU admission was significantly higher in those with a BMI over 30 kg/m2, with risk greatest in patients with the highest BMIs (for purposes of this study, that meant a BMI ≥35 kg/m2). Risk of death was significantly higher among patients with a BMI ≥35 kg/m2, as well. These data may be helpful in encouraging obese patients to make lifestyle changes to reduce their BMI, but also to stress the importance of maintaining risk-reducing behaviors like wearing a mask in public and practicing stellar hygiene practices.

Obesity + COVID-19 Is a Riskier Combination than Previously Understood
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