Obesity linked to hospitalisation and ICUs for Covid-19 patients


Extremely obese people with Covid-19 are 17 times more likely to require admission to intensive care in Ireland than cases with no underlying condition, a new analysis shows.

While 1.4 per cent of patients who have contracted the virus in Ireland were categorised as extremely obese (a body mass index – BMI – greater than or equal to 40), almost half of them required hospitalisation, according to the analysis of official figures by scientists at UCD.

Those who were extremely obese were 3.5 times more likely to require hospitalisation. Only people with cancer, heart disease and kidney disease had a higher risk of needing to go to hospital.

Among those with high BMI, risk of severe outcomes from a Covid infection is not confined to the extremely obese. A BMI greater than 25 (overweight) is “bad news, with increased severity and death” for those affected, according to Prof Francis Finucane, consultant endocrinologist at Galway University Hospital.

International evidence points to a linear relationship between BMI and the risk of severe Covid-19 illness, Prof Finucane says.

In response to rising evidence of the link between obesity and serious Covid-19 illness, the Health Service Executive is to widen its monitoring of this underlying condition.

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