78% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the US overweight or obese, CDC finds

Among 71,491 U.S. adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19, 27.8 percent were overweight and 50.2 were obese, according to the CDC's latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published March 8. 

The analysis included 148,494 patients who recieved a COVID-19 diagnosis at emergency deparments or inpatient vistits between April 1 and Dec. 31 across 238 hospitals. Of those, 71,491 were hospitalized.

Those who were overweight or obese were more likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation, findings showed. Obesity was also linked to increased risk for hospitalization and death, especially among those under age 65. As BMI rose, so did the risk, the CDC found. 

The risks for hospitalization, ICU admission and death were lowest among those with BMIs under 25. The "healthy weight" BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9.

The report notes that obesity is a recognized risk factor for severe COVID-19, which is possibly due to chronic inflammation that disrupts the body's immune response and impairs lung function. 

"These findings highlight the clinical and public health implications of higher BMIs, including the need for intensive COVID-19 illness management as obesity severity increases, promotion of COVID-19 prevention strategies including continued vaccine prioritization and masking, and policies to ensure community access to nutrition and physical activities that promote and support a healthy BMI," the agency said. 

To view the full report, click here.

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