Obese patients with Covid-19 are more at risk of hospitalization


Humanity is affected by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, with tragic losses in human lives.

The international situation has “terrorized” governments and societies. We want to believe that the drug and then the vaccine will be found soon, in order to minimize deaths and serious hospitalizations.

In the midst of a pandemic, we need to focus on effect of obesity, which leads to the classification of our severely overweight fellow human beings in the vulnerable groups of the population and in those who are most at risk, in case of infection. Measures taken in many countries (eg mandatory stay at home for weeks, even for those who are not ill) have an effect on motility and physical exercise, which even for short periods, increases the risk of metabolic disease. In addition, under these conditions, the consumption of processed foods and ready meals, which can lead to further weight gain.

Given the high rate of obesity worldwide, it is estimated that there will be many patients who will be infected with coronavirus. THE patient management of these in the intensive care unit is extremely problematic, because it is difficult to intubate them, difficult to investigate them, for example with computed tomography, since the tomographs are limited in weight and difficult to handle and transport.

Special beds and transport systems, as well as special CT scans are available at Obesity Surgery Centers, but may not be available at coronavirus reference hospitals. Obesity associated with obesity in the lungs, heart and blood vessels, etc. make these patients even more vulnerable. The World Obesity Organization is constantly updating any link between Covid-19 disease and obesity with ongoing guidance, collecting data from various countries and health systems.

What scientific studies have shown about obesity and the new coronavirus

It is worth noting that obesity, when it affects patients under 60, doubles the severity of the symptoms and the risk of hospitalization of patients with Covid-19, according to two recent studies from the US and France published in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. A recent study from the New York School of Medicine / NYU Langone Health found that obese patients under the age of 60 were twice as likely to be hospitalized for Covid-19 and as likely to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Specifically, in 3,615 patients who tested positive for Covid-19, 21% had a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥ 30-34 kg / m2 while 595 patients had a BMI ≥ 35 kg / m2. In patients over 60 years of age, obesity was not a prognostic factor for ICU admission. This finding has significant clinical implications, as in the US 40% of adults have a BMI ≥ 30 kg / m2. In the second study, researchers Arthur Simonnet and colleagues from Lille, France (2) found an increased incidence of obesity in patients with COVID-19 admitted to the ICU, and also observed that the severity of COVID-19 increased, the more obese was the patient. Many of the patients treated, according to the authors, were younger, with the only risk factor being obesity. The researchers concluded that young obese people got sick faster.

So it is good that we are all vigilant, in order to protect obese people and inform them about their state of health, which should not be treated as “just a few extra pounds.”


Charilaos Pappis
Director of the 3rd Surgery Clinic of Hygeia Hospital
Head of the Department of Bariatric Surgery
Former President of the Hellenic Obesity Surgical Society
Awarded for its global contribution by IFSO


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