In a study published in the journal ‘Public Health in Practice’, it was found that there is a significant link between COVID-19 mortality and the proportion of overweight in adults.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, connection between obesity and mortality has become increasingly evident which prompted researchers from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to investigate if excess body weight has any connection with high rates of COVID-19 mortalities around the globe.
Lead principal investigator Mr. Hamid Beladi, UTSA’s Janey S. Briscoe Endowed Chair in Business, and his colleagues investigated for possible connection of COVID-19 mortality and excess weight in nearly 5.5 billion adults from 154 countries. To identify potential patterns in data, the researchers employed cutting-edge techniques of statistical analyses.
“The main finding from the analysis is a statistically significant positive association between COVID-19 mortality and the proportion of the overweight in adult populations spanning 154 countries. This association holds across countries belonging to different income groups and is not sensitive to a population’s median age, the proportion of the elderly, or proportion of females,” Mr. Beladi stated.
As per the findings, if the ratio of overweight people in a country’s adult population is one percentage point higher than the proportion of overweight people in a second country’s adult population, it is reasonable to assume that COVID-19 mortality in the first country will be at least 3.5 percent points higher than in the second.
“The average individual is less likely to die from COVID-19 in a country with a relatively low proportion of the overweight in the adult population, all other things being equal, than she or he would be in a country with a relatively high proportion of the overweight in the adult population,” Mr. Beladi said.
The study’s authors say that, clinically, excess body weight is related to several comorbidities that can lead to an increasingly severe course and consequent death from COVID-19.
Individuals with metabolic problems, for example, can predispose individuals to a poorer COVID-19 outcome. Since excess body weight can result in a greater volume and longer duration of contagion, it can also lead to a higher level of exposure to coronavirus.
On average, the COVID-19 pandemic has been more fatal for adult populations residing in parts of the world characterized by excess body weight, the researchers added.
The researchers believe that their findings can be used to uphold public policy regulations on the food industry, to the extent that it profits off the sales of processed foods, foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fats.