Risk for COVID-19 hospitalization, death increases depending on body mass index, CDC says

Overweight and obese individuals are at a higher risk for severe illness, hospitalization, and death if they contract COVID-19 according to a March 8 report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the report, CDC researchers say they found a relationship between body mass index and COVID-19 severity.

Researchers say individuals with the lowest risk for hospitalization and death are those with BMI’s near the threshold between healthy weight and overweight in most instances. 

"Overweight and obesity were risk factors for invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death, particularly among adults aged <65 years," the CDC said. 

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Currently, the CDC recognizes obesity as an underlying condition for severe illness caused by COVID-19. Additionally, obese and overweight individuals are at a higher risk of developing chronic inflammation that disrupts critical immune responses, the health agency stated. 

Obesity is a common disease impacting human metabolism. The CDC estimates that more than 42% of U.S. adults suffer from it. 

The CDC has also found that nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. could be attributed to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure, according to the National Institutes of Health.

A separate report by the NIH illustrates how common underlying medical conditions put people at higher risk for severe illness from the novel coronavirus.

The report cited a statistical model developed by researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts led by Meghan O’Hearn and Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian.
Researchers found that more than 900,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations occurred through November 2020, 30% of which were attributed to patients with obesity. More than a quarter — 26% of patients — had hypertension, 21% had diabetes, and 12% had heart failure.

Currently, the CDC says that adults at any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

According to the CDC, it is estimated that 60% of all American adults have at least one chronic medical condition, so the latest changes to the agency’s list increase the number of people who fall into higher-risk groups.