Patients who are overweight or obese are likely to have more severe Covid-19 and are highly likely to require invasive respiratory support, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in journal Diabetes Care, indicated that Covid-19 patients with obesity were more likely to require oxygen and had a 73 per cent greater chance of needing invasive mechanical ventilation.
A similar but more modest results were seen in overweight patients. No link was found between being overweight or obese and dying in hospital from Covid-19.
“Although taking steps to address obesity in the short-term is unlikely to have an immediate impact in the Covid-19 pandemic, it will likely reduce the disease burden in future viral pandemics and reduce risks of complications like heart disease and stroke,” said researcher Danielle Longmore from Murdoch Children`s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia.
For the study, the researchers included 7,244 patients aged 18 or above from 11 countries. Among the participants, 34.8 per cent were overweight and 30.8 per cent were obese.
For patients with pre-existing diabetes, there was increased odds of needing invasive respiratory support, but no additionally increase in risk in those with obesity and diabetes, the study indicated.
Men were at an increased risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes and needing invasive mechanical ventilation. In those aged over 65 years, there was an increased chance of requiring oxygen and higher rates of in-hospital deaths, it added.
The researchers say that results highlight the need to urgently introduce strategies to address the complex socio-economic drivers of obesity, and public policy measures such as restrictions on junk food advertising.