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Obesity: A potential risk factor for infection and mortality in the current COVID-19 epidemic

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 23:06 authored by Jayawardena, R, Jeyakumar, DT, Misra, A, Andrew HillsAndrew Hills, Ranasinghe, P

Background and aims: COVID-19 is an ongoing global pandemic, affecting nearly 35 million people from 214 countries as at September 30, 2020 and emerging evidence suggests that obesity is a potential risk factor for communicable diseases, including viral infections. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between obesity prevalence of the total adult population and COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, in different countries.

Methods: A total of 54 countries from six continents were selected. Country-specific obesity prevalence data were retrieved from the latest non-communicable diseases profiles released by the Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health Cluster of World Health Organization, while the real time statistics from the Worldometer website were used to extract data on COVID-19 infections and mortality per million of the total population as of September 30, 2020.

Results: Obesity prevalence data ranged from 2.0% (Vietnam) to 35.0% (Saudi Arabia). Among the selected countries, the highest number of COVID-19 cases per million was documented in Qatar (n = 44,789) while the lowest was reported from Vietnam (n = 11). Highest mortality per million population due to COVID-19 infections occurred in Peru (n = 981), in contrast with the smallest number reported in Mongolia (n = 0). A significant positive correlation (r = 0.46; p < 0.001) was observed between the total number of COVID-19 infections and the prevalence of obesity. COVID-19 mortality was also significantly correlated (r = 0.34; p < 0.05) with the prevalence of obesity.

Conclusions: Obesity prevalence in each country was significantly associated with both infection and mortality rate of COVID-19.


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Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews










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