Obese patients at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, study finds


Obese patients among black and minority ethnic communities are at around two times higher the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) than white patients, according a new study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.

The researchers accessed the UK Biobank, a national database of more than 500,000 people who had their health information recorded between March 2006 and July 2010. These individuals had their health records cross-referenced to a national COVID-19 laboratory test data bank between the period of March 16 and June 14, 2020. Of that cohort, 5,623 unique test results were available.

The information helped the research team to quantify the association of body mass index (BMI) with the risk of a positive test for COVID-19, broken down by ethnic group.

According to the results, the greater risk of COVID-19 in BME people relative to white Europeans was only apparent at higher BMI values. For example, at a BMI value of 25 kg/m2, there was no difference in risk, whereas at a BMI of 30 kg/m2 the risk of COVID-19 was nearly twice as high and at 35 kg/m2 more than two and a half times higher in BME individuals relative to white individuals, according to the study.

The researchers said the role of obesity as risk factor for chronic disease is well-established, however there is a need for more research to understand its role as a risk factor for the COVID-19 pandemic and how this affects different populations.

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