‘Obese people more vulnerable to Covid-19’

Lee Han-soo  Published 2020.07.16  17:30  Updated 2020.07.16 17:30


A researcher at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and the compiling committee of the Korean Society for the Study of Obesity (KSSO) said that obese people could be more vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.

A joint research team, led by Professor Lim Soo of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, has discovered that obese people are more vulnerable to Covid-19. (SNUBH)

Recent data have shown that aging, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are factors that further exacerbate Covid-19 progression. However, it was still unclear if obesity is an independent risk factor that can increase the risk of Covid-19 infection and the severity of the virus.

To clear up such uncertainties, the research team, led by Professor Lim Soo at the hospital and the compiling committee of KSSO, gathered the results of studies published in various global countries and presented the mechanism and effect of obesity on Covid-19.

“A study conducted in Wenzhou, China, on 214 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 showed that the risk of Covid-19 is about six times higher in patients with fatty liver and obesity, and the prognosis is also poor,” the team said. “A study conducted at three hospitals in Rhode Island, U.S., also reported that patients with mid-level obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 kg/㎡ or more were hospitalized in the intensive care unit for a longer period.”

According to local data, 40 percent of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were obese with a BMI of 25㎏/㎡ or more, the researchers added.

They stressed that the analysis revealed that older people, patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, smokers, and overweight and obese people are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and have a more serious outcome.

“Obese people also tended to be less active during the Covid-19 epidemic, which studies confirmed,” the report said. “Regular exercise, physical activity, and improved lifestyle, such as healthy eating habits, can reduce inflammatory responses in the body while improving immunity.”

Professor Lim also said, “Regular exercise and healthy eating have been confirmed as the wisest way to reduce the Covid-19 risk factor of obesity.”

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