Young people with COVID-19 who are obese are at greater risk of being hospitalised and experiencing more severe symptoms, new research has found.
According to the study of 3,615 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19, while being overweight didn’t appear to have any negative impact on individuals aged 60+, it did in younger patients. Compared to those with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), which is less than 30, patients with BMIs of 30-34 were twice as likely to need hospitalisation and twice as likely to need acute care.
Meanwhile, while younger COVID-19 patients with BMIs of 35 or higher were also found to be twice as likely to require hospitalisation, they were three times more likely to end up in the intensive care unit.
One of the study co-authors, Jennifer Lighter, MD, a hospital epidemiologist in New York City, said the findings are significant, especially in the US where 42% of the population has a BMI over 30 and is considered obese.
“Our hospital was one of the first to find the association between obesity and coronavirus, but I think it will soon become very common,” Lighter said.
It is important for frontline health workers to understand how being obese potentially changes a patient’s clinical outlook and consider such patients as high-risk.