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Obesity Ups Risk for COVID-19 Severity

Disease severity increases with increasing body mass index

obese man weighs himself

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- There is a high frequency of obesity among patients admitted to intensive care for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), according to a study published online April 9 in Obesity.

Arthur Simonnet, M.D., from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Lille in France, and colleagues assessed the relationship between clinical characteristics, including body mass index (BMI), and the requirement for invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in 124 consecutive patients admitted to intensive care for SARS-CoV-2 in a single French center.

The researchers found that obesity (BMI >30 kg/m²) was present in 47.6 percent of cases, while severe obesity (BMI >35 kg/m²) was present in 28.2 percent of cases. More than two-thirds of patients (68.6 percent) required IMV. The proportion of patients who required IMV increased with increasing BMI categories and was greatest in patients with BMI >35 kg/m² (85.7 percent). Independent of age, diabetes, and hypertension, the need for IMV was significantly associated with male sex and BMI. For patients with BMI >35 kg/m², the odds ratio for IMV was 7.36 versus patients with BMI <25 kg/m².

"Obesity is a risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 severity requiring increased attention to preventive measures in susceptible individuals," the authors write.

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