More evidence has been published which suggests obesity and being overweight increase the chances of becoming severely unwell with COVID-19.

Obese people are 70 per cent more likely to require hospital treatment should they contract the condition and even being overweight increases the risk by 40 per cent.

The team from University College London looked at the health data of more than 300,000 people, 640 of who were admitted to hospital during the peak of the pandemic.

They found a direct link between COVID-19 severity and body mass index (BMI), including those who were underweight too, which raised the risk by six per cent.

These findings, which further support other studies that have looked at weight and COVID-19 outcomes, are particularly concerning because it is thought two in three adults are overweight or obese in England.

The researchers said they discovered there was a “linear increase in the risk of COVID-19 with increasing BMI, that became evident from modestly elevated weight… to stage II obesity compared to normal weight”.

They added: “Since over two-thirds of Westernised society are overweight or obese, this potentially presents a major risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection and may have implications for policy.”

Last month Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has previously admitted he thought his weight may have been to blame for being so unwell with COVID-19, launched a strategy to tackle obesity.

The researchers concluded: “We found associations between obesity and higher odds of COVID-19 with severe symptoms requiring hospitalisation in a large community-dwelling cohort that are consistent with the few prognostic studies of smaller clinical samples.”

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America journal.

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