Researchers have found a striking association between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of death among patients (especially men) diagnosed with Covid-19.
According to the study, published in journal Annals of Internal Medicine, this association was independent of the obesity-related comorbidities and other potential confounders.
The findings suggest that high BMI was more strongly associated with Covid-19 mortality in younger adults and male patients, but not in female patients and older adults.
The research team studied health records of more than 6,900 patients treated for Covid-19 in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California healthcare system in the US to determine the association between obesity and deaths from Covid-19.
The obesity risk was adjusted for common comorbidities, including diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and chronic lung or renal diseases, which themselves are risk factors for poor outcomes in Covid-19.
The study also took into account when SARS-CoV-2 was detected. They found that patients in the highest weight group were four times likely to die within 21 days of Covid-19 diagnosis compared with those in the normal-weight group.
The findings showed that men and those younger than 60 with high body weight were particularly at high risk of death.
According to the researchers, identifying obesity as an independent risk factor is important so that patients with obesity can take extra precautions and healthcare providers and public health officials can consider this when providing care and making public health decisions.
The authors of an accompanying editorial from The Johns Hopkins University in the US suggests that these findings, in addition to prior research, should put to rest any notion that obesity is common in severe Covid-19 because it is common in the population.
The research proves that obesity is an important independent risk factor for serious Covid-19 disease and that the risks are higher in younger patients.
According to the authors, this is probably not because obesity is particularly damaging in this age group; it is more likely that other serious comorbidities that evolve later in life take over as dominant risk factors.
“Males are particularly affected, may reflect their greater visceral adiposity (excess weight that develops over time around the centre of the body, also called visceral fat) over females,” the study authors noted.
Earlier a study, published in journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology, revealed that locking down society to combat Covid-19 creates psychosocial insecurity that leads to obesity and may escalate the obesity epidemic.
Also, another study published last month in the European Journal of Endocrinology, found that the risk of greater Covid-19 severity and death is higher in people with any obese body mass index (BMI). (IANS)