Obesity and Mortality Among Patients Diagnosed With COVID-19: Results From an Integrated Health Care Organization

Study of 6916 patients with COVID-19 found a J-shaped link between BMI and risk for death. Compared with patients with BMI of 18.5-24kg/m2, those with BMIs 40-44kg/m2 and >45kg/m2 had relative risks of 2.68 (95% CI, 1.43-5.04) and 4.18 (2.12-8.26), respectively.

SPS commentary:

It was noted that the risk was most striking among those aged ≤60 years and men. Increased risk for death associated with Black or Latino race/ethnicity or other sociodemographic characteristics was not detected


According to an editorial, the consistency of this new study and prior research should put to rest the contention that obesity is common in severe COVID-19 because it is common in the population. It stresses that obesity is an important independent risk factor for serious COVID-19 disease and the finding that the risks are higher in younger patients is probably not because obesity is particularly damaging in this age group, but because other serious comorbidities that evolve later in life take over as dominant risk factors. It notes that males are particularly affected may reflect their greater visceral adiposity over females, given that this fat is notably proinflammatory and contributes to metabolic and vascular disease. It adds that actions such as social distancing; altering behaviours to reduce viral exposure and transmission, such as wearing masks; and instituting policies and health care approaches that recognise the potential effects of obesity are doable and should be implemented.


Annals of Internal Medicine

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