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Overweight Tied to More Respiratory Symptoms in Milder COVID-19

In a cohort of mostly outpatients with COVID-19, those with overweight or obesity had more symptoms, especially cough and shortness of breath

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TUESDAY, Oct. 26, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents and adults with overweight or obesity experience more respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 despite similar viral loads compared with normal-weight individuals, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

Wesley A. Cheng, from the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed whether age and obesity are risk factors for milder COVID-19 illness. The analysis included 552 individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 who were enrolled between June 2020 and January 2021.

The researchers found that 470 of the 552 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (55.5 percent adults, 13 percent adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, and 31.5 percent children younger than 12 years). Children had fewer symptoms (median two versus three) lasting fewer days (median five versus seven) than adolescents and adults. Nearly two-thirds of participants (63.8 percent) had a body mass index classified as overweight or obese. These individuals showed more symptoms than individuals without overweight or obesity (median three versus two), including more cough and shortness of breath. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction cycle threshold values were lower in children versus adolescents and adults and in symptomatic individuals compared with asymptomatic individuals.

"These findings underscore the importance of vaccinating individuals with overweight or obesity," the authors write. "The data may inform primary care physicians on how to counsel individuals with overweight or obesity regarding expected severity and duration of symptoms."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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