Since the COVID-19 pandemic began doctors have recorded how overweight and obese patients seem to be at greater risk. And the danger is different for different racial groups. Now scientists are beginning to understand why?
The researchers behind a new report from the University of Oxford say their study is more comprehensive because it includes data about people who were not admitted to the hospital.
Lead author Dr Carmen Piernas, an epidemiologist at the University, says they studied 6.9 million British patients whose weight was recorded between January and April 2020.
"We knew from previous evidence that obesity was playing a role for COVID severity so well with this study, with this study, we wanted to have a more in-depth evaluation of these obese associations and we looked at in a much bigger sample of community people so people from the community, not only hospitals. And we also wanted to look not only of people with obesity or overweight but across the full range of weight from underweight people to very overweight people."
Data during the pandemic shows the age group 20 to 39 is considered to be at low risk of COVID-19, but obesity statistically boosts the likelihood of people in this group of having severe symptoms.
The report, in the Lancet medical journal, also reveals a significant increase in severe symptoms of the virus in different racial groups.
Professor Wass says the study has confirmed important information about who is at greater risk during the pandemic and points to a way of helping to control the virus.
"Research really is important to understand whether by reversing obesity, you reverse the increased risk of mortality and morbidity with COVID and then how quickly, if you reverse your obesity because this is really key at the moment, we're all talking about the huge number of people who have severe and complex obesity in this country, and many of them don't have anywhere to go for help and support."
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