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This Puts You at Higher Risk of Severe COVID, Says New CDC Study

But you can do something about it.

A new study reinforces that having one condition greatly increases your risk of having severe COVID-19: Obesity. In the study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at more than 148,000 people who'd been treated for COVID-19 at 238 U.S. hospitals between March and December 2020. Of this group, 28.3% were overweight and 50.8% had obesity. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Obesity Can Result in Severe COVID, Another Reason to Get Your Vaccine

"Overweight and obesity were risk factors for [patients requiring] invasive mechanical ventilation, and obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death," wrote researchers in the March 8 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study's authors said the findings support giving people with obesity priority access to COVID vaccines. "These findings highlight clinical and public health implications of higher BMIs, including the need for intensive management of COVID-19-associated illness, continued vaccine prioritization and masking, and policies to support healthy behaviors," they wrote.

RELATED: 10 COVID Symptoms You Haven't Heard About

Other Studies Agree That Obesity Puts You in Danger

The CDC's findings confirm earlier research that obesity is a major risk factor for poor COVID-19 outcomes.

According to a study published in January in PLoS One, researchers found that COVID patients with severe obesity (a BMI of 35 or more) were twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU and four times as likely to die of any cause. 

In an analysis published in Obesity Reviews last August, scientists reviewed 75 studies and found that obesity (a BMI over 30) was associated with a 48% higher risk of death, a 113% greater risk of hospitalization and a 74% higher chance of being admitted to intensive care with COVID-19. 

And obesity isn't just associated with COVID severity—it seems to increase the chance you'll be infected to begin with. One UK study found that being overweight, obese or severely obese increased the risk of COVID infection by 31%, 55% and 57%, respectively.

As for why obesity has these effects, experts believe that they're partly due to the chronic state of inflammation caused by extra weight. Additionally, being overweight or obese impairs the immune system and forces the lungs to work harder, making it more difficult to breathe even when you're healthy. 

RELATED: If You Feel This You May Have Already Had COVID Says Dr. Fauci

How to Survive This Pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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