Being overweight or obese can increase a person’s likelihood of being symptomatic after contracting COVID-19, a new study finds.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles investigated the likelihood of COVID-19 symptoms depending on patients’ weights.
They found overweight and obese people were more likely to have a symptomatic Covid case than those with normal weights.
The disparity was largest for those aged 12 to 17, with overweight and obese participants found to be twice as likely to suffer a symptomatic case.
Overweight people also felt more symptoms on average, reporting three compared to only two reported on average for people with lower weights.
Researchers found that overweight and obese teens were twice as likely to suffer a symptomatic case of COVID-19 than those who were of healthy weight (center). They were also more likely to experience more symptoms from the virus
America’s obesity epidemic likely made the pandemic worse for the nation, and turned some potentially asymptomatic cases into more mild ones (file image)
‘Even when infected with similar amounts of virus, overweight and obesity are risk factors for greater severity of COVID-19 symptoms,’ lead researcher Dr Pia Pannaraj, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told UPI.
‘COVID-19 vaccination of all individuals, and especially those with overweight and obesity, is important to prevent severe COVID-19.’
Researchers, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, gathered data from 552 participants, 470 of whom tested positive for the virus and had cases that did not require hospitalization.
The body mass index (BMI) of each participant was calculated, and they were categorized as either underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
They found that among participants aged 12 to 17, a total of 34.2 percent of Covid patients who were not overweight experienced symptoms of the virus.
Overweight and obese patients were much worse off, with 66.7 percent – or two-thirds – having a symptomatic case of Covid.
Across all ages, none of the four people considered underweight experienced a symptomatic case of the virus.
Just under half, 48 percent, of people considered to be of a ‘normal’ weight by BMI had a symptomatic case.
Overweight people were 59 percent likely to suffer a symptomatic case if they caught the virus, and obese people were 60 percent likely overall.
People who are overweight or obese of all ages reported more symptoms of the virus as well, and were significantly more likely to have shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
There was no significant difference in how long the symptoms lasted when they appeared, though.
Experts believe that these results mean one part of fighting pandemics like Covid in the future is to promote the general health and well-being of citizens.
‘The slow-motion pandemics of obesity and chronic illness have made the acute COVID-19 pandemic far worse than it needed to be, both among those hospitalized, and even among those with milder disease,’ Dr David Katz, president of the True Health Initiative, told UPI.
‘These findings add to the already compelling case for defending against the threat of acute pandemics by doing far more to promote general good health, including healthy weight, for the population at large.’
More than 42 percent of Americans suffer from obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts believe the obesity epidemic has likely played a role in the U.S. suffering more Covid deaths than any other country in the world despite being a generally richer nation with more medical resources.
The pandemic did its part to exacerbate the problem as well, causing childhood obesity to double over the course of a year.