A Global Report Linking Obesity & COVID-19


It’s been over a year since COVID-19 started ravaging the world with a global pandemic that has directly or indirectly claimed the lives of 2.5 million people. As scientists and governments try to assess how to manage through the pandemic, including vaccinating the population, we continue to learn about who is at the highest risk of contracting, and suffering from serious symptoms due to, COVID-19.

The site http://www.worldobesity.org recently published an in-depth report, effective March 2021, which details the role of obesity, body mass index, and the linkage to severe symptoms and/or morbidity related to COVID-19. The term overweight is used here to mean adults with a body mass index (BMI) above 25 kg/m2, a widely recognized threshold indicating an increased risk of developing weight-related chronic diseases. Obesity is classified as a BMI above 30 kg/m2. In some texts the term overweight is used to mean a BMI between 25 and 30 kg/m2 (i.e. ‘overweight non-obese’). I’ve attached a downloadable link below so you can read the entire report, and I encourage you to do so.

The report’s findings are nothing short of shocking and once again sound the alarm on how, globally, our dietary behaviors are making us sick and susceptible to viruses, bacteria and developing chronic disease. Here’s a synopsis of global facts highlighting the strong correlation between obesity and COVID-19 suffering.

  1. Obesity is the 2nd most direct physiological factor, only behind age, in correlating a higher risk of suffering from severe symptoms, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19.
  2. In countries where less than half the adult population is classified as overweight, the likelihood of death from COVID-19 is a small fraction – around 1/10th – of the level seen in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.
  3. Of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported by the end of February 2021, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.
  4. No country where the average adult BMI is below 25 kg/m2 has a high COVID-19 mortality rate. No country where less than half the adults are overweight has a high COVID-19 mortality rate.

If you think these statistics are only related to a few nations, guess again. Here’s a table from the report that shows how, across the world, obesity is directly correlated to higher risk & suffering related to COVID-19.

Obesity is a serious issue, but it is preventable, as I have highlighted in this previous article. The first step is acknowledging the role of diet as a root cause, and then taking steps to change our behavior so that we can live a healthier life everyday, and be in better condition to handle viruses and bacteria that will continually be a part of our lives.

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