Obesity Linked To Higher Risk Of Covid-19 Infection: Research

According to a recent study, excess weight gain or obesity is linked to an increased risk of Covid-19 infection. Read on. 

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaPublished at: Sep 20, 2022Updated at: Sep 20, 2022
Obesity Linked To Higher Risk Of Covid-19 Infection: Research

According to a new study, it was recently shown that having a high body mass index (BMI) is linked to a higher risk of Covid-19 infection and prolonged post Covid symptoms instead of having high blood sugar levels. There are previous studies that have shown that people with diabetes and obesity are at a greater risk of becoming severely ill and die if they get COVID-19, but are no more likely to contract the infection. But, the other underlying mechanisms, and their responsibility in prolonged post Covid symptoms (Long Covid), is still not clear.

The findings of the research by Dr Anika Knuppel from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, University College London, United Kingdom, and her team are being presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden, between 19-23 September. Dr. Knuppel said, "Early in the pandemic research identified diabetes and obesity as risk factors for becoming severely ill with COVID-19. And we know that many people living with type 2 diabetes are also carrying excess weight. Our early findings support the idea that obesity-related mechanisms may be responsible for the excess risks of COVID-19 associated with diabetes, rather than high blood sugar per se." 

Also read: Long COVID? Study Says Coronavirus Stays In Body For Months, Spreads Beyond Airway

The analysed data included the most recent measurements of several clinical characteristics (between 2002 and 2019) such as HbA1c, weight, height, waist and hip circumference from every study and results from questionnaires on health and lifestyle. The data was collected from 31,252 participants, combined from nine studies and it was found that higher BMI was linked to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. The risk was 7% higher for each 5kg/m2 increase in BMI. Participants who were overweight (BMI 25-29.9kg/m2) and obese (30 kg/m2 or greater) had 10% and 16% higher risk of getting Covid, respectively, than people with a healthy weight (less than 25 kg/m2).

Knuppel said, "Our early findings suggest a link of adiposity with COVID-19 infection and long COVID-19 even after taking into account socio-demographic factors and smoking. We need to further explore what makes people with overweight and obesity at risk of worse outcomes and how this relates to severe cases."