Being overweight is associated with an increased risk of worse outcomes from COVID-19, including higher ICU admissions, according to a study published Thursday in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK noted that this was the first large study to report the effect of body weight on the risk of worse outcome from COVID-19 across the range of the patient. body mass index (BMI).
BMI is a measure of body fat calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters.
The study is based on more than 6.9 million people living in England and included data from more than 20,000 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized or died during the first wave of the pandemic in the country.
Researchers have found that the risk of worse outcomes from COVID-19 begins to increase in people with a BMI greater than 23 kilograms per square meter (kg / m2), which is considered to be in the healthy range. The risks of hospitalization were 5% higher for each unit increase in BMI and the risk of ICU admission was 10% higher for each unit increase, they said.
People who are underweight (BMI less than 18.5) have also experienced worse outcomes with COVID-19, they said.
The effect of being overweight on the risk of severe COVID-19 was greatest among young people between the ages of 20 and 39 and decreased after age 60, according to the study.
The increase in BMI had very little impact on the risk of severe COVID-19 in people over the age of 80, the researchers said. However, the overall incidence of severe COVID-19 among people aged 20 to 39 was lower than all other age groups, they said.
“Our study shows that even very modest excess weight is associated with higher risks of serious complications from COVID-19 and that the risks increase sharply as BMI increases,” said Carmen Piernas, lead author of the study, from the University of Oxford.
“We also show that the risks associated with being overweight are greatest in people under the age of 40, while weight has little or no effect on your chances of developing severe COVID-19 afterwards. 80 years old, ”Piernas said.
These results suggest that vaccination policies should prioritize obese people, especially now that the vaccine is being rolled out to younger age groups, the researchers said.
Previous studies have reported that obesity is associated with more severe outcomes after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but this is the first to look at the consequences of being overweight on COVID- outcomes. 19 across the entire BMI range.
It is based on the anonymized health records of 6,910,685 community patients in the QResearch database of electronic patient health records collected regularly in England.
All of the participants in the study were 20 years of age or older and had at least one BMI measure on file. The mean BMI in the entire study group was 26.8 kg / m2.
Researchers analyzed the recordings between January 24 and April 30, 2020 for findings related to the severe illness of COVID-19.
“We don’t yet know that weight loss specifically reduces the risk of serious consequences from COVID-19, but it is highly plausible and will certainly bring other health benefits,” said Professor Paul Aveyard, who co-led study, from the University. of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
The researchers noted several limitations to their study.
Analysis of the impact of BMI may be limited by the smaller sample of people with recent BMI measures, they said.
However, the results did not change when the researchers excluded BMI measures older than a year at the start of the study period.
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