COVID News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19: 5 - 16 April | World Obesity Federation

COVID News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19: 5 - 16 April

NewsCOVID News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19: 5 - 16 April

We are compiling stories from credible sources representing all regions of the world, including academic articles, position statements and mainstream news, amongst others. 

Patients who are overweight or obese at risk of more severe COVID-19, study finds - Science Daily

Patients who are living with overweight or obesity have more severe COVID-19 and are highly likely to require invasive respiratory support, according to a new international study from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) and The University of Queensland. The study published in Diabetes Care, found patients living with overweight or obesity are at high risk of experiencing worse COVID-19 outcomes. The study looked at hospitalised SARS-CoV-2 patients from 18 hospitals in 11 countries including China, America, Italy, South Africa, and The Netherlands. Among the 7244 patients aged 18 years and over, 34.8 percent were overweight and 30.8 percent were obese. COVID-19 patients living with obesity were more likely to require oxygen and had a 73 percent greater chance of needing invasive mechanical ventilation.

Children develop obesity due to remote learning – Korea BioMedical Review

Obesity has developed among children and adolescents in Korea due to the pandemic, according to a group of researchers from the Samsung Medical Center (SMC). The team led by Professors Choi Yeon-ho and Kim Mi-jin, found that all indicators related to obesity, such as weight and body mass index (BMI), increased compared with the period before the government suspended in-person education. The study analysed 90 students aged 6-18 diagnosed with obesity, who visited the hospital at least twice between December 2019 and May 2020. In addition to weight and BMI increases, researchers also found that metabolic syndrome indicators increased as did triglycerides levels.

More weight gain for teen boys with obesity than girls during COVID-19 - Healio

Teenage boys living with obesity gained more weight than girls during Italy’s first COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020, according to research from the University Hospital Sant’Orsola-Malpighi of Bologna, Italy. The research team analysed data from adolescents aged 10 to 18 years living with obesity who had visited the outpatient clinic within 2 months before Italy’s first COVID-19 lockdown on March 8, 2020, as well as after the lockdown ended from May 18 to June 30, 2020. Data on body weight, height, blood pressure and waist circumference were collected. Participants completed a questionnaire at their post-lockdown visit on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, changes in diet, and consumption of junk food. Researchers partially attributed this gain to boys spending more than twice the amount of time in sedentary behaviour during the lockdown compared with the girls in the study.

Researchers at AIIMS Bhopal identify sleep apnoea as possible risk factor for COVID complications – New Indian Express

A team of researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has found that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is another risk factor for COVID-19 patients. The study analysed the sleep pattern of 67 patients after they had recovered from the infection. Participants were admitted overnight to a sleep lab where their brain waves and respiratory patterns were monitored. Seventy percent of them were found with moderate-severe OSA. The study also indicated a direct correlation between obesity and OSA, as most of the subjects afflicted with OSA were also living with obesity.

COVID-19 severity and obesity: are MAIT cells a factor? - The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

Meta-analysis by Popkin and colleagues found that the odds ratio of people with obesity being hospitalised with COVID-19 was 2·13 when compared with those without obesity, and mortality was 48% higher in patients with obesity than in those without. This increased risk of severe disease is linked to higher rates of metabolic and cardiovascular complications. Another major contributing factor is the presence of substantial immune dysregulation and chronic systemic inflammation. Several publications have highlighted MAIT cells as potentially having a crucial role. In each of these studies, reduced peripheral serum MAIT-cell frequencies were observed in a COVID-19 severity-dependent manner (i.e. with lower frequency associated with more severe COVID-19).

Covid-19 and obesity: A potent mix - Gulf News

The UAE ranks 26th on the Global Obesity Observatory’s list of nations with high percentage of obese people — behind the US positioned at 14 but ahead of the UK ranked 29.  A 2019 study of 33,000 Emirati men in the UAE, found that 58 per cent were overweight or obese at age 18, rising sharply to 71 per cent at the age of 29. Sixty-two percent of men exhibited at least one cardio-metabolic risk factor, while one in four had more than one cardio-metabolic risk factor. Experts suggest that the UAE has an especially potent mix of unique factors that lead to higher obesity levels, including changes in cultural and social environments, lack of physical activities, unhealthy diets, and behavioural problems such as binge-eating disorder. As part of the National Programme to Combat Obesity the UAE, the government is implementing a range of initiatives including workshops and the launch of Mutabah, the UAE’s first online system to collect data on obesity and excess weight among school students.

Czech Republic: Obesity is big factor in fight against COVID-19 - Deutsche Welle

When it comes to coronavirus deaths per capita, the Czech Republic is among the highest in the world. According to statistics from the country's Ministry of Health, almost 28,000 people had died of COVID-19 by the end of March — and more than a hundred have died every day since. Estimates suggest that these figures are likely to increase. Experts claim that unhealthy lifestyles led by many Czechs is a contributing factor. The Czech Republic leads the world in per capita beer consumption — with Czechs downing almost 200 litres (53 gallons) per person each year; is the European "market leader" for marijuana use among young people; and "leads" the EU in smokers per capita. It is hoped that the relaxation of restrictions and spring weather will create more opportunities for outdoor exercise to help address obesity levels. 

COVID-19 patients with sedentary habits more likely to die, finds study – The Hindu

Among COVID-19 patients, a lack of exercise is linked to more severe symptoms and a higher risk of death, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study found that people who were physically inactive for at least two years before the pandemic were more likely to be hospitalised, to require intensive care and to die. To see if a lack of exercise increases the odds of severe infection, hospitalisation, admission into an intensive care unit (ICU), and death, the researchers compared these outcomes in 48,440 adults in the United States infected with COVID-19 between January and October 2020. After allowing for differences due to race, age and underlying medical conditions, sedentary COVID-19 patients were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital as those who were most active. A sedentary lifestyle has not previously been associated with severe COVID-19 infection. While the information in the study is statistically strong, the study cannot be construed as direct evidence that a lack of exercise directly caused the difference in outcomes because it was an observational study dependent on self-reporting by patients.


The deadly covid-19 pandemic is obscuring another — obesity - The Washington Post

In this opinion piece, public health writer Leana S, Wen argues that obesity levels must be addressed urgently and explains how stigma has negatively impacted society’s ability to address the disease. Obesity is stigmatised because people often think of weight as a choice or a consequence behaviour that can only be treated by the individual, this thinking undermines public policy development. Figures show that more than 70 percent of the American public is either overweight or has obesity, this demonstrates that obesity is a societal issue. Developing the policies and making the structural changes required will be complex but is necessary, otherwise we will emerge from the pandemic only to have life expectancy reduced by a preventable and treatable disease.