Obesity is a key factor in the severity of a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a new study published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC found that of the 148,494 adults across 238 hospitals who were diagnosed with COVID-19, nearly 51 percent were obese, and nearly 28 percent were overweight.
Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 or more, while obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.
Just over 42 percent of the U.S. population was considered obese in 2018, according to the CDC’s most recent data.
Being overweight and/or obese were risk factors for invasive mechanical ventilation, and obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death, particularly among adults under the age of 65, the CDC said.
The CDC study found the risk for hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths were lowest among individuals with a BMI under 25. As BMIs increased, the risk of severe illness “sharply increased,” particularly among people 65 and older, the agency said.
The CDC recommended that as clinicians develop care plans for COVID-19 patients, they should consider the risk for severe outcomes in patients with higher BMIs, especially for those with severe obesity
The agency said the findings highlight the “clinical and public health implications” of higher BMIs, including the promotion of COVID-19 prevention strategies like continued vaccine prioritization and masking, “and policies to ensure community access to nutrition and physical activities that promote and support a healthy BMI.”
CDC said promoting a healthy BMI might be especially important for populations disproportionately affected by obesity, particularly Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic Black adults, as well as people in low-income households, which are also more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19 compared with other populations.