Obesity is a highly prevalent but chronic medical condition that increases the risk factor for contracting a number of health diseases. The latest addition to this list is the deadly Covid-19 infection which was previously thought to be linked with obesity only. Health experts added ‘obesity’ as a risk factor for the viral disease along with diabetes, and other conditions. However, a recent study highlights that not just a higher BMI but a low BMI also increases the likelihood of contracting the infection.
The complete study findings are now published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
According to the latest CDC reports on obesity, 35 US states are battling with adult obesity right, which increased from only nine states in the year 2018. As the pandemic has already affected the entire concept of public health management, knowing the biggest risk factors may help to devise a prevention and care plan for high-risk patients, saving their lives.
In this study, the research team studied nearly 6.9 million including 20,000 individuals who contracted dearly Covid-19 infection. All of these Covid-19 patients either died or were in hospital getting treatment for severe symptoms, during the first half of the pandemic. The results showed that the risk of death and severe outcomes was highest among people who were having a BMI of at least 23kg/m2. Surprisingly, this BMI level is considered normal, and linking it with Covid-19 is surprising for many.
The chances of hospitalization increase by 5% with every unit added to the BMI rate. Moreover, the risk of being in the intensive care unit was nearly 10% higher with this per unit increase. On the other side, underweight people, those with a BMI of 18.5 or less were also at high risk of complications caused by deadly Covid-19 infection. Also, they were equally more likely to get hospitalized for their symptoms.
The research team was astonished to see that the high or low BMI risk for Covid-19 infection with deadly symptoms was highest in younger people. It included those who were between 20 to 39 years. This risk decreased in older patients, especially those who were over 60 years of age, as the BMI has only a negligible effect on Covid-19 symptoms in older people.
The hospitalization and emergency help reported were most common in people between 20 to 39 (992), 40 to 59 (2,845), 60 to 79 (5058), and in 80+ individuals (4678).
Dr. Carmen Piernas from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, at the University of Oxford, is the lead author of this study. He says that this study reveals what a high body mass or a low body mass does to Covid-19 risk. Even a little obesity can make the covid-19 infection symptoms go worse or make the infection deadly for the patient. This danger continues to grow for people with a higher BMI.
Interestingly, these risks are the highest in people who are still below 40, which is surprising. This age is considered young and it doesn’t look like that covid-19 will be bad for middle-agers than older people who are generally experiencing aging and typically battle with a lot of underlying diseases in routine.
Based on these results, it looks like the government’s vaccine policies should be changed, adding obese and underweight people to the priority group to provide vaccination. Receiving the timely vaccine is equally necessary for younger ones, as it is in older adults.