25 Jul Coronavirus: Obesity increases the risk of death from COVID-19, PHE study says | UK News
People who are obese or overweight are at higher risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19, according to Public Health England.
Almost 63% of adults in England are overweight or obese, meaning they have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 (overweight) or over 30 (obese).
PHE says that the risk of death increases by 40% for someone with a BMI between 30 and 35 and by 90% for those with a BMI over 40, when compared to those of a healthy weight.
The report also said being overweight or obese increases the chance somebody will end up critically ill in intensive care, with 7.9% of critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units having a BMI over 40 compared with 2.9% of the general population.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “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.”
Many studies have already shown obesity is a risk factor for serious complications or death from the virus, as are other lifestyle-related problems, such as type 2 diabetes.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce restrictions on junk food advertising over the next few days, in an effort to help people lose weight.
He has previously criticised moves such as the sugar tax – labelling it a “sin stealth tax” – but it is thought his experience of coronavirus, which saw him spend a number of days in hospital, has changed his mind.
He has lost weight since recovering from the virus.
On Friday he said: “I’m not normally a believer in nannying, bossing politics, but the reality is that obesity is one of the comorbidity factors (for COVID-19).”
Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, said she would support measures to tackle obesity.
She added: “That’s been brought to the fore by COVID, but actually it’s something that we’ve kind of known all along, but it’s just never got to the top of government’s to-do list.”