Covid deaths highest in countries with more overweight people

An interesting report from the World Obesity Forum clearly demonstrates the correlation between obesity and death rates from Covid-19. Countries with high levels of overweight people, such as the UK and the US, have the highest death rates from Covid-19, prompting calls for governments to urgently tackle obesity, as well as prioritising overweight people for vaccinations. About 88% (2.2 million of the 2.5 million) deaths from Covid were in countries with high levels of overweight people, according to the report from the World Obesity Federation.

 The report found that the UK, US and Italy, where more than 50% of adults are overweight, have the biggest proportions of deaths linked to Covid. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The issue is not just obesity, but levels of weight that many assume are now normal in many countries. Death rates are 10 times higher in those countries where more than half the adults had a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 – the point at which normal weight tips into overweight. Among countries where more than half the adult population is overweight, Belgium has the highest level of deaths, followed by Slovenia and the UK. Italy and Portugal are 5th and 6th, while the US is 8th. Vietnam, by contrast, has the lowest Covid death rate in the world and second lowest level of overweight in the population. Click here for full table and source article.

Of course, the biggest factor in the death rate from Covid-19 remains age, but being overweight comes second. An analysis of the data shows that in the UK ( almost 64% of adults are overweight or obese), nearly 20% of Covid patients in intensive care are of normal weight, 32% are overweight and 48% are obese. In the USA, where adult overweight and obesity is at 68%, 12% of Covid patients in intensive care have normal weight, 24% are overweight and 64% are obese. The data is remarkably consistent across the globe – with just a few outliers like New Zealand and Iceland, where strong measures to protect and shield the vulnerable population.

So there we have it. We know that the mortality age profile for Covid-19 is remarkable similar to natural mortality. It is not clear from this Report what the correlation between age and obesity is, although I guess it is similar to natural mortality. There are detailed graphs in the full World Obesity Federation Report. for those interested in the detail.

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