The World Health Organisation says obesity could increase the risk of severe COVID-19 infection by seven fold.
The organisation, via its official Twitter account in Nigeria @WHONigeria, says a Body Mass Index over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.
It tweeted “#Obesity could increase the risk of severe #COVID19 infection by 7 fold.
“Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.”
WHO noted that obesity has grown to epidemic proportions, with over four million people dying each year as a result of being overweight.
“Rates of overweight and obesity continue to grow in adults and children. From 1975 to 2016, the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents aged 5–19 years increased more than four-fold from four percent to 18 percent globally.
“Obesity is one side of the double burdens of malnutrition, and today, more people are obese than underweight in every region except sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
“Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.
“The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30 percent higher than that of developed countries,” WHO said.
A study published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine shows that young adults with underlying conditions such as morbid obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are at the highest risk of being placed on a ventilator or dying from COVID-19.
According to the study of 3,000 hospitalized patients aged 18 to 34, it confirmed that black and Hispanic people have been the worst affected by the pandemic: they accounted for 57 percent of all young adults who were hospitalized and 49 percent of those who died or needed ventilation.
The study led by Jonathan Cunningham noted that morbid obesity, hypertension, and diabetes were common and associated with greater risks of adverse events.
“Young adults with more than one of these conditions faced risks comparable with those observed in middle-aged adults without them. More than half of these patients requiring hospitalization were Black or Hispanic, consistent with prior findings of disproportionate illness severity in these demographic groups,” the researchers said.
The researchers said given the sharply rising rates of COVID-19 infection in young adults, the findings underscore the importance of infection prevention measures in this age group.
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