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Studies: Obesity perhaps the most important risk factor for COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths

Studies: Obesity perhaps the most important risk factor for COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths

Of all the erroneous messages promoted during the coronavirus pandemic by the press and entertainment industry, ‘body positivity’ may be the deadliest.

I have returned from a much-needed 12-day break from the news, returning to California and finding little has changed from the mask-mad mandates that have been imposed for over a year.

Reviewing recent reports, I have noted that our media seems to be relatively silent on a factor that may be significant in assessing risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19: obesity.

For example, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Disease Research and Policy reports that two new, large studies from England and Mexico provide new details on obesity as a risk factor for poor COVID-19–related outcomes.

In the first study, published yesterday in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, University of Oxford researchers extracted data from the QResearch database for nearly 7 million English patients 20 years and older with available body mass index (BMI) values registered at an eligible general practice from Jan 24 to Apr 30, 2020.

It is the largest study to date assessing body weight and COVID outcomes.

Of 6,910,695 eligible patients with a mean BMI of 26.8 kg/m2, 0.20% were hospitalized, 0.02% were admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), and 0.08% died after they were diagnosed as having COVID-19. Roughly one third of patients with severe coronavirus outcomes had type 2 diabetes, and most were 60 years or older.

…The second study, led by researchers at the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia Ignacio Chavez in Mexico City, was published today in Epidemiology & Infection.

The national observational study involved analyzing data from 15,529 COVID-19 inpatients and outpatients in Mexico’s 32 states from the National COVID-19 Epidemiological Surveillance Study between Feb 24 and Apr 26, 2020.

The case-fatality rate was 9.2%, and 21% of hospitalized patients died. Obesity alone almost tripled the risk of death (aHR, 2.7), while obesity combined with other underlying illnesses increased the risk of death and other severe outcomes even further (diabetes HR, 2.79; immunosuppression HR, 5.06; high blood pressure HR, 2.30).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI between 18.5 to 25 is considered normal, above 25 is considered overweight, and 30 or more is considered obese.

These clearly scientific and conclusive findings correspond to an earlier report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent that about 78% of people who have been hospitalized, needed a ventilator, or died from Covid-19 have been overweight or obese.

Among 148,494 adults who received a Covid-19 diagnosis during an emergency department or inpatient visit at 238 U.S. hospitals from March to December, 71,491 were hospitalized. Of those who were admitted, 27.8% were overweight and 50.2% were obese, according to the CDC report. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 or more, while obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.

The agency found the risk for hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths was lowest among individuals with BMIs under 25. The risk of severe illness “sharply increased,” however, as BMIs rose, particularly among people 65 and older, the agency said.

Just over 42% of the U.S. population was considered obese in 2018, according to the agency’s most recent statistics.

Our media and some “experts” have been touting race as a risk factor, and prioritizing people for vaccinations based on ‘social justice’ ideology. However, there are weight statistics that should have serious bearing on discussions of coronavirus risk factors.

Bearing in mind that 42% of Americans are obese according the CDC definitions, the rate for black Americans is notably higher:

Among African-American adults, nearly 48 percent are clinically obese (including 37.1 percent of men and 56.6 percent of women, compared to 32.6 percent of whites (including 32.4 percent of men and 32.8 percent of women).

Hispanic American rates are higher still:

Over 60% of all Hispanic populations are either overweight or obese. Of the 60% that are overweight, more than half, 52%, are obese. Children 15 and younger rank highest among all obese groups; this stems from the myth that the thicker a child is healthier.

Instead of focusing on masks, our politicians, public health officials, and media would be more useful if they highlighted this information and adjusted their policies and discussions accordingly.

However, I suspect they will ignore this fact and cheer on “body positivity.”

David Hasselhoff’s daughter Hayley has become the first plus-size nude model to grace a Playboy cover.

The curvaceous cover girl of Playboy Deutschland’s May issue described the groundbreaking event on British talk show “Lorraine” on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported.

“I think it’s very empowering,” said the “Baywatch” icon’s progeny, 28, who has been a curve model since she was 14. “To be asked to do something like this when we’re all worried about our own self-image, it was a revolution.”

She added, “‘It was a great honor, and it’s a message for curvy women: to know they are wanted and desired.”

Of all the erroneous messages promoted during the coronavirus pandemic by the press and entertainment industry, ‘body positivity’ may be the deadliest.


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Actually heard obesity was a major factor in Covid related deaths months and months ago, but the Democrats Propaganda Ministry never was interested in saving people by informing what mitigating factors were the cause, it’s always a big lump to push it onto and not pick anyone out who should be aware and leave everyone else live their life.

    Nanoushka in reply to Skip. | May 3, 2021 at 10:56 am

    If they highlight obesity they can no longer claim that Covid is discriminatory against minorities. There was an article in my local paper last fall, about a Hispanic woman who had a baby and shortly thereafter died from Covid, the premise was discrimination in the disease; buried at the end was talk of her Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Those were the biggest factors as she was young, they said she had “planned” to lose weight.

    Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are the biggest factors after age in Covid. They’re also lifestyle diseases; the cure is a) medication b) stop eating food and c) exercise-all 3 can be reversed.

    Diabetes is a big industry and I had to change doctors because my clinic had a diabetes specialist; when my glucose came down to a normal level, she planned to replace insulin with something else, leave me on another med and add blood pressure meds but needs to have patients so she still has a job. I didn’t see the need for a replacement for insulin when I was within normal range or blood pressure meds when my blood pressure was normal; my current doc said I only need the second med I was on and should get a blood pressure monitor and check weekly-I have normal blood pressure so no longer check weekly.

Careful, you could be accused of being a weightist.

There have been so many luridly bad medical policy decisions coming from our politicians. One has to wonder if they are nearly all confirmed non-math majors.

True body positivity comes from knowing how to have a fit, capable body with plenty of stamina. This is merely a matter of education and discipline, provided, of course that the person has no serious injury or illness.

There is nothing positive about being too fat or too skinny and weak.

    n.n in reply to Valerie. | May 1, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Planned Parent/hood (e.g. selective-granny) is one of the few institutions and practices with excess year-over-year mortality. Denying and stigmatizing inexpensive, available, safe therapeutic treatments is another forcing. Sequestration in indoor climates with a greenhouse effect is the primary transmission path on a forward-looking basis. Masks (short of N95 and following strict protocol) effectively mitigate transmission with a flip of a coin at best, and increase infections at worst. Then there is malnutrition, especially in dark diversity individuals.

The underlying factor may be vitamin D deficiency, as it is fat soluble. Vitamin D is crucial for having a healthy immune response.

We could’ve saved many lives by simply advocating D3 supplements.

Instead we forced everyone indoors, away from the natural source of D, the sun.

    henrybowman in reply to Zachary. | May 1, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    I have all the complicating indicators short of pregnancy. I did nothing but avoid crowds and max my D3. Everybody in my immediate family except the grade-schooler (even the ones living separately) caught the Kooties over the holiday (or tested positive shortly after). Three were asymptomatic. Two had congestion, and loss of smell and taste. One (me) had that plus fatigue. All of us were over it short of two weeks. Luck, preparation, family genetics, what? No one can tell us.

      n.n in reply to henrybowman. | May 1, 2021 at 7:19 pm

      Yes, D3 for a functional immune system. A large minority, and, in fact, a majority, have ether preexisting (e.g. t-cell coreactive) or naturally acquired immunity. Some required therapeutic treatments (e.g. HCQ cocktail, Ivermectin protocol, anti-Inflammatories) to aid system function and mitigate disease progression.

    “We”? Not us.

henrybowman | May 1, 2021 at 6:41 pm

“our politicians. One has to wonder if they are nearly all confirmed non-math majors.”

I’d no sooner expect to find math majors in high office than to find an architect running a string of ho’s. Politics selects for sociopaths, math selects for spectrum dwellers.

Other than a surprising number of various medical professionals (both Pauls and Gosar come to mind immediately), the only even vaguely sciencey politician I can recall was John Glenn, and crew astronauts are in general mainly jocks that go along for the ride.

    OldProf2 in reply to henrybowman. | May 1, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    Of course they don’t understand any math. After all, “Math is racist.” Here is the anti-racist math program that is being forced on teachers in Oregon, California, and elsewhere:

    Frankly, the real racists are the “diversity” people who tell minorities that they are too stupid to understand real math and science, and the courses must be watered down for them.

    DaveGinOly in reply to henrybowman. | May 2, 2021 at 2:03 am

    Early astronauts (i.e., until the advent of the mission specialist) were nearly all hard science types, many being engineers of one flavor or another. The USAF and Navy don’t train jocks to fly their best aircraft. (If by “crew astronauts” you mean “mission specialists”, they’re nearly all scientists. So, either way, “jocks” don’t make it into space.)

    The Mecury Seven astronauts:
    Two aeronautical engineers
    One aerospace engineer
    Two with BS degrees (USNA – unspecified)
    One with degrees in mechanical engineering and aeromechanics
    Four grads of the Naval Test Pilot School
    Two grads of the Experimental Flight Test Center School

    The other politician I can think of with a science background is Jimmy Carter. Carter started engineering studies at two civilian schools before being admitted to the US Naval Academy, where he earned a BS, going on to serve in the submarine fleet. (Again, a field not for those deficient in math and engineering.)

      henrybowman in reply to DaveGinOly. | May 3, 2021 at 6:12 pm

      By “crew astronauts,” I meant the opposite of mission specialists, that is, the guys actually crewing the craft. I realize mission specialists are mainly scientists. The main qualification of the early astronauts was test-pilot cred, which has always leaned heavily jock-y. I’m sure a bunch more who couldn’t hack the technology washed out.

Overweight and obese individuals account for nearly 80% of cases. “Fat is beautiful” is a past, present, and progressive comorbidity.

tarheelkate | May 1, 2021 at 8:29 pm

I’ve been appalled for the past year at the failure of public health authorities to push Vitamin D3 supplements and weight loss. I sent articles about D3 and COVID to several black and Asian friends. Two were Vitamin D-deficient and were given prescription supplements.

The information about excess weight and COVID susceptibility has been out there for many months. Just look around, America. We’re fat! And some groups are heavier than others, on average.

    I’m a fattie–at least according to CDC guidelines (not yet obese, but working hard on it! :P), but I survived (what I strongly suspect was) WuFlu last spring. I did take supplements (mostly zinc, but also multi-vitamins that contained Vitamin D). I think the studies are spot-on, but even being overweight or obese is not a death sentence with WuFlu.

    That said, the statistical likelihood of dying from it is crazy low (over 99% infected live), so this is all alarmist crazy. Fat people survive WuFlu, though their fatness is more likely to increase likelihood of hospitalization, etc. as Leslie says. Embracing “curviness” i.e. “I’m a big fat slob but soooo sexy” is not good for America, period. WuFlu or no.

      “I’m a fattie–at least according to CDC guidelines…” Uh-oh: Are you going to start posting as “Fatty Slippers”.

      (Come on – uou look wonderful in your ‘picture’.)

        Fatty Slippers! LMAO, I so love your sense of humor, Fine! Naw, my fattie-tude is based on the CDC guidelines re: BMI. I am more muscle than fat, though, since I am an avid gardener (those bags of fertilizer and compost don’t weigh nothing you know!).

      mark311 in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 2, 2021 at 1:40 am

      That stat is plain wrong. The current CFR depends heavily on the age of the person, it’s also varied depending on when measured. A true figure won’t be found until the pandemic ends. In the US the total CFR Has varied from 6% to just below 2%. And this doesn’t tell you the CFR on an age basis.

      tarheelkate in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm

      No, of course a BMI near the obesity definition is not a COVID death sentence! At age 72, I hover just below the “overweight” definition, but I also do a lot of gardening and lift weights 2-3 times per week. The BMI measurement is not as useful for people having some muscle; the more muscle, the less useful the measure.

      However, many times in the past year I’ve seen a photo of a smiling face of a local COVID patient who died. So often, it’s an obviously overweight person, and the family will report that there was also diabetes or hypertension to go with the excess weight. And, just looking at our black and Hispanic populations, the unhealthiness of obesity and morbid obesity makes it clear why death rates have been higher in those groups.

    DaveGinOly in reply to tarheelkate. | May 2, 2021 at 2:14 am

    One of my favorite photos is that made by Weegee (Arthur Fellig) at Coney Island in 1940. (Some of you may recognize it from the cover of George Michael’s album “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1”.) One of the things I find extraordinary about it is that there’s nary an overweight person in sight. (There are some, you can count them on one hand.) Imagine what this photograph would look like today.

That’s what’s nice about the South. All you have to do is just tend your yard and you get plenty of Vitamin D. Plus a good tan.

drednicolson | May 1, 2021 at 10:04 pm

For most of human history, fatness has been regarded as a positive trait. It was an indicator of wealth, in that the person’s family could afford regular meals. The tanned, slender people were out in the fields digging turnips.

Now in the last 60 years, things have well and truly flipped. The common people eat like kings, and the wealthy elite starve themselves into swimsuits and cook golden brown on the beach.

Interesting article, thanks

Not to rain on the parade, but I have to say, this post leaves me baffled at the differences between the three studies mentioned.

First, let’s look at the original (US-based) study. “Of those who were admitted, 27.8% were overweight and 50.2% were obese, according to the CDC report.” 73.7% of American adults over the age of 20 were overweight or obese in 2018, the latest year for which I could find CDC statistics. 42.4% are obese according to these numbers, so 31.3% are “only” overweight.

In other words, overweight individuals make up 31.3% of the population and 27.8% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19, for a naive AHR of 27.8/31.3 = 0.89. Obese, severely obese, and morbidly obese individuals make up 42.4% of the population and 50.2% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19, for an AHR of 50.2/42.4 = 1.18.

The new British study gives a *per-unit* AHR for the overweight+obese population of 1.05 (hospitalization) or 1.04 (death), which is slightly higher than the old, US-based study given their BMI distribution but still in the same ballpark.

The new Mexican study gives an AHR of 2.97 (death). To give you an idea of how different that is, to get that number out of the British study (with 1.04 AHR per unit BMI over the cutoff) you’d have to assume that the average population BMI is 73. I doubt that the average BMI of Mexicans, even obese Mexicans, is 73.

So what gives? Before we get too excited about the Mexican study, we owe it to ourselves to find out why this is so different than prior studies’ results. Got any ideas?

    billdyszel in reply to Psyche. | May 3, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Thanks, Psyche, I was thinking that. It looks like the rate of obesity among COVID patients mirrors the rate in the general population. Which would not imply causation. Same goes for the other c0-morbidities: diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, etc.

    henrybowman in reply to Psyche. | May 3, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    First, thanks for understanding how to put statistics properly into context.

    Second, I don’t know how this factors into your findings, but the major thing about the Mexican statistics that is vastly different from most other countries is that they have a very high death to case ratio. It’s because they did pretty much squat in the way of testing until really, really late in the pandemic. Meaning that the only time they logged a “case” of COVID was when the patient died of it (or got hospitalized, and they had a crap recovery rate, so they mostly died anyway).