Out-of-control obesity rates and the “body positivity” movement predating the pandemic have left the U.S. population disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19 compared to other countries. The U.S. ranks No. 12 in obesity worldwide, one of the highest rates among developed countries. One study found that 90% of worldwide COVID-19 deaths occurred in countries with high obesity rates.
COVID-19 is much more deadly for the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that weaken the immune system. One of those conditions is obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Adults with excess weight are at even greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The CDC said that of the roughly 900,000 adult COVID-19 hospitalizations from the start of the outbreak to Nov. 18, 30% were attributed to obesity.
Meanwhile, a new study examining over 150,000 adults across 20 hospitals confirmed that obese people are much more likely to be hospitalized or to die from the virus. Severely obese COVID-19 patients were 61% more likely to die and 33% more likely to face hospitalization than their peers at healthy weights.