An Australia-led international study has found that patients with overweight or obese were at high risk of having worse COVID-19 outcomes.
The recent research, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the University of Queensland and published in Diabetes Care, found that those patients were also more likely to require oxygen and invasive mechanical ventilation compared to those with a healthy weight.The study looked at 7,244 adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 from 18 hospitals in 11 countries, among whom 34.8 percent were overweight and 30.8 percent were obese.
They found that COVID-19 patients with obesity were more likely to require oxygen and had a 73 percent greater chance of needing invasive mechanical ventilation. Similar but more modest results were seen in overweight patients.
“Obesity is associated with numerous poor health outcomes, including increased risk of cardiometabolic and respiratory disease and more severe viral disease including influenza, dengue and SARS-CoV-1,” said Dr Kirsty Short from the University of Queensland who co-led the research.
“Given the large scale of this study we have conclusively shown that being overweight or obese are independent risk factors for worse outcomes in adults hospitalized with COVID-19,” she said.
Dr Danielle Longmore from MCRI said the findings, which highlighted the relationship between obesity and increased COVID-19 disease burden, showed the need to urgently introduce strategies to address the complex social-economic drivers of obesity, and public policy measures such as restrictions on junk food advertising.