AMERICAN scientists have revealed that obesity is the single biggest chronic factor in New York City’s hospitalisation of coronavirus patients as most people admitted as Covid-19 patients were found to be overweight.
Doctors at New York University (NYU) Langone Health Centre have conducted the largest study so far of US hospital admissions for Covid-19. During their research, they found obesity, along with age, as being the biggest deciding factor in hospital admissions, which may suggest the role of hyper-inflammatory reactions that can happen in those with the virus.
For months, scientists have been pouring over data about cases and deaths to understand why it is that Covid-19 manifests itself in different ways around the globe, with certain factors such as the age of the population repeatedly popping up as among the most significant determinants. Now, one of the largest studies has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor, after age, in whether those with Covid-19 had to be admitted to a hospital.
Christopher Petrilli of the NYU Grossman School, who authored the report, said: “The chronic condition with the strongest association with critical illness was obesity, with a substantially higher odds ratio than any cardiovascular or pulmonary disease. His paper was titled Factors associated with hospitalisation and critical illness among 4,103 patients with Covid-19 disease in New York City.
However, his paper has not been peer-reviewed. Even though there is very little available data on body mass index for patients with Covid‐19 infections, the role of obesity in the epidemic must not be ignored.
Obesity plays an important role in the pathogenesis of Covid‐19 infection. In fact, the immune system, which is a key player in the pathogenesis of Covid‐19, also plays an important role in obesity‐induced adipose tissue inflammation.
This inflammation of adipose tissue results in metabolic dysfunction potentially leading to dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, type two diabetes mellitus, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. By analogy to other respiratory infections, obesity may play an important role in Covid‐19 transmission.
For example, in the case of influenza A, obesity increases the duration of virus shedding as symptomatic patients with obesity shed virus 42% longer than adults who do not have obesity.1 In H1N1 influenza, obesity is an independent risk factor for hospitalisation and death.
Authors of the report recommended extra attention and precautions for patients with obesity during this epidemic. They added that whenever Covid‐19 infection is suspected, screening must be systematic, particularly if the patient has obesity.