Obesity is a big risk factor for severe COVID-19 cases, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released Monday.
The study analyzed data of 148,494 Americans under the age of 65 and it showed that 71,491 of those adults, who received a Covid-19 diagnosis from March to December 2020, were obese or overweight.
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more while being overweight is a BMI of 25 or more. Calculations on BMI can be made using CDC’s BMI calculator. We used the calculator for the following example:
Height: 6 feet, 0 inches Weight: 200 pounds. BMI is 27.1, indicating your weight is in the Overweight category for adults of your height. For your height, a normal weight range would be from 136 to 184 pounds.
42% of the U.S. population was considered obese, according to CDC data from 2018
The agency is calling for continued strategies to ensure community access to nutrition and physical activity opportunities that promote and support a healthy BMI.
“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 CDC wrote.
Data for this study were obtained from PHD-SR, a large, hospital-based database. Among the approximately 800 geographically dispersed U.S. hospitals that reported both inpatient and ED data to this database, 238 reported patient height and weight information and were selected for this study.
“As clinicians develop care plans for COVID-19 patients, they should consider the risk for severe outcomes in patients with higher BMIs.”
The study did have its limitations though. First, risk estimates for severe COVID-19–associated illness (including hospitalization) were measured only among adults who received care at a hospital; therefore, these estimates might differ from the risk among all adults with COVID-19.
Second, hospitalization risk estimates might have been affected by bias introduced by hospital admission factors other than COVID-19 severity, such as a health care professional’s anticipation of future severity.
Third, only patients with reported height and weight information were included; among 238 hospitals, 28% of patients were missing height information, weight information, or both.
However, results of a sensitivity analysis using multiple imputation for missing BMIs were consistent with the primary findings.