A meta-analysis of 75 published studies tells us that obese patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are twice as likely to die from the disease. The researchers also raise the possibility that they respond less well to future vaccines.
That obesity is a risk factor is obviously nothing new. We know that excess body fat tends to weaken the immune system. Being overweight can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation in the body that can interfere with the body's defenses against infection. This condition is also associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and increases the risk of developing cancer. But to what extent can obesity influence the vital prognosis of a patient with Covid-19?
Several studies have looked into this question. A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (United States) was responsible for bringing together all these results as part of a meta-analysis. As part of this work, they reviewed over 75 published studies involving over 400,000 patients .
According to these results, obese people positive for Covid would be twice as likely to end up in hospital and 74% more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU ), compared to people who are not overweight. In addition, moderate to severe obesity would jump by almost 50% the risk of dying disease.
The researchers also raise the possibility that future vaccines against Covid-19 may be less effective in individuals suffering from obesity. “We are not saying that these vaccines will not be effective, but that obesity should be considered as a factor that could alter their performance “, specifies in a press release Melinda Beck, co-author of the study.
According to the researchers, the prevalence of people with obesity could increase even more in the current health framework. Indeed, many countries are urging their population to go out as little as possible to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Although necessary, these measures (confinement or encouraging teleworking) can nevertheless lead to more sedentary behavior .
“Also, we will need creative solutions quickly to prevent undesirable diets and promote healthy eating “, adds Melinda Beck. “In this way, we will strengthen our resilience against future threats “.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of adults worldwide are overweight and 13% are obese. The number of cases of obesity has almost tripled since 1975. In France, approximately 17% of adults are affected, i.e. more than eight million people.