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Obesity increases risks of death from COVID-19: Report

A doctor wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit looks after a COVID-19 coronavirus patient at the Intensive Care Unit of the Sharda Hospital, in Noida. (AFP)Premium
A doctor wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit looks after a COVID-19 coronavirus patient at the Intensive Care Unit of the Sharda Hospital, in Noida. (AFP)

  • Obesity has been recognised a risk factor for severe illness caused by Covid-19
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to tackle obesity and has himself lost weight since he was admitted to intensive care with COVID-19

If you are overweight then you could be at increased risk of severe illness or even death from coronavirus, according to a latest report by the Public Health England (PHE).

"The current evidence is clear that being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, as well as from many other life-threatening diseases," said Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE.

PHE said data showed that for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30-35, risk of death from COVID-19 increased by 40%, and it increased by 90% for those with a BMI over 40 compared to those of a healthy weight.

People with a BMI of over 30 are classed as obese under the system. PHE said that almost 63% of adults in England are overweight or obese.

Multiple studies have shown that obesity is associated with increased severity of influenza A, higher viral titers in exhaled breath and prolonged transmission of the virus.

As with the influenza virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognized obesity as a risk factor for severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2.

Britain will be making an announcement on how it plans to tackle obesity shortly, a junior minister said on Friday, after media reported that the government plans to introduce restrictions on how junk food is sold in Britain.

"The department of health has indeed been consulting on, for instance, how to protect children from adverts and the impact of adverts of unhealthy food. So of course that is one of the policies that would be looked at," Helen Whately told Sky News.

"There will be announcements on this shortly," she said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to tackle obesity and has himself lost weight since he was admitted to intensive care with COVID-19.

On Friday, Johnson said people should lose weight, with reports that government restrictions on advertising unhealthy foods could come next week.

"I'm not normally a believer in nannying, bossing politics but the reality is that obesity is one of the comorbidity factors," Johnson said.

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