Countries where more than half of adults are overweight have recorded COVID-19 mortality rates in excess of 10 times those in other nations, according to a report by the World Obesity Federation.
Of the 2.5 million pandemic deaths reported by the end of February, 2.2 million were in countries above the 50% threshold, the study showed, suggesting obese people should be included in priority groups for testing and vaccinations.
Obesity has almost tripled worldwide in the past four decades and is on the rise all over the world. Last year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned it’s a “global pandemic in its own right.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, being overweight has been associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive or critical care, and the need for mechanically assisted ventilation.
In the U.K., overweight people were 67% more likely to need intensive care after contracting COVID-19. Those considered obese were three times as likely to require ICU treatment.
Hundreds of thousands of COVID-related deaths could have been prevented if all countries had overweight prevalence below 50%, the report said. The organization called for better obesity prevention and treatment strategies.
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