The researchers also say the vaccine may be less effective for obese people due to a weakened immune response.
Scientists at UNC looked at data from 75 studies conducted between January and June involving 400,000 patients with coronavirus.
They found that obese people had a 46% higher risk of catching Covid-19 than non-obese people, and a 113% increased risk of hospitalization.
In addition, their chances of ending up in intensive care were 74% higher than those who were not obese. They also had a 48% higher risk of dying from the virus, the team reported on Wednesday in Obesity Reviews.
For example, “the prevalence of people with obesity in inpatients was much higher than that in outpatients,” the researchers wrote. They cited a report of 5,700 obese patients in New York City, which showed that 42% of Covid-19 hospital patients were obese, compared to just 22% of the city’s population.
“Obese people are also more likely to suffer from physical ailments that make it more difficult to fight this disease, such as sleep apnea, which increases pulmonary hypertension, or a body mass index which increases difficulties in a hospital environment. with intubation, ”Melinda Beck, a professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC who worked on the study, said in a statement.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 42% of the American adult population was considered obese in 2017-18.
As research continues on a potential coronavirus vaccine, Beck pointed to previous research linking obesity in adults to a less effective influenza vaccine. She suggested the same could be true for Covid-19.
“However, we are not saying that the vaccine will be ineffective in populations with obesity, but rather that obesity should be seen as a modifying factor to be considered for vaccine testing,” she said. “Even a less protective vaccine will still provide some level of immunity. ”
Growing evidence shows that obesity increases the risk of hospitalization, the severity of illness and sometimes death with viral respiratory infections, the researchers wrote, “increasing the likelihood that obesity may also increase independently. the risk of COVID-19. “