Individuals with a high body mass index are 50% more at risk of dying or being admitted to an intensive care unit if they are infected with the coronavirus, new research suggests.

Prior analysis has found that obese people are more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 compared to individuals with a ‘standard’ body mass index (BMI).

Obesity affects more than 650 million people worldwide and escalates an individual’s risk of developing other medical complications, such as type 2 diabetes, pneumonia, influenza and hypertension.

Swedish-based academics from the University of Gothenburg examined more than 1,500 people who were hospitalised due to COVID-19 to assess whether obesity triggered prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) visits and death.

They found that mortality and lengthy ICU admissions were twice as common amongst people who are obese.

According to the scientists, obesity is a major factor that influences the “severity” of the coronavirus infection.

The researchers stated: “In this large cohort of Swedish ICU patients with COVID-19, a high BMI was associated with increasing risk of death and prolonged length of stay in the ICU.

“Based on our findings, we suggest that individuals with obesity should be more closely monitored when hospitalised for COVID-19.”

The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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