There is evidence to suggest that obesity puts people at risk of having a more severe disease in COVID-19 and more likely to need advanced medical care. For example, a recent (2022) systematic review of 167 studies reported that ’Obese individuals are 1.5 times more likely to experience severe outcomes and 1.09 times more likely to die when compared to non-obese individuals with COVID-19 disease.”
Having a BMI of more than 40 is a significant predictor or risk factor for severe outcomes and death in COVID-19 patients.
Obesity may also present challenges in caring for patients. It can, for example, be more difficult to intubate, or place a tube in the throat of, patients with obesity to help them breathe, and to carry out diagnostic imaging such as X-rays.
Things to Remember
Just because something is associated with a better (or worse) outcome doesn’t mean it causes the outcome.
Lead Researcher: Dr Petek Eylül Taneri, MD, PhD, School of Nursing and Midwifery, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland & Cochrane Ireland, University of Galway.
Reviewed by: Prof. Declan Devane, School of Nursing and Midwifery, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland & Cochrane Ireland, University of Galway.
Topic Advisor: Prof. Andrew Murphy, Professor of General Practice, NUI Galway, Director of the Health Research Board Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland and General Practitioner principal in a semi-rural practice.
Public and Patient Advisor: Anne Daly, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, NUI Galway.
Journalist Advisor: Claire O’Connell, Journalist, Contributor, The Irish Times.
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