Being an individual with obesity is associated with numerous underlying risk factors for COVID‐19, including hypertension, dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and chronic kidney or liver disease. Coronaviruses are typically not associated with severe disease and were mostly thought to cause only mild respiratory infections until the emergence of the 2002 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS‐CoV) in Guangdong, China.
Subsequently, emergence of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) in 2012 exhibited high prevalence among individuals with obesity.
The growing evidence detailed above demonstrates that obesity increases the risks of hospitalization, severity and in some cases death with viral respiratory infections, increasing the likelihood that obesity may also independently increase the risk for COVID‐19, another respiratory viral disease.
Importantly, the mechanism(s) responsible for greater COVID‐19 severity in individuals with obesity remains unknown. However, insights from other viral infections, like influenza, and epidemiological evidence offer some understanding of how being an individual with obesity increases the risk of COVID‐19 severity.
Individuals with obesity were more at risk for COVID‐19 and its complications:
1) For hospitalization, 113% higher risk
2) ICU admission 74% higher risk
3) For mortality, 48% increase in deaths