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Obesity: A potential risk factor for infection and mortality in the current COVID-19 epidemic


Jayawardena, R and Jeyakumar, DT and Misra, A and Hills, AP and Ranasinghe, P, Obesity: A potential risk factor for infection and mortality in the current COVID-19 epidemic, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews, 14, (6) pp. 2199-2203. ISSN 1871-4021 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Diabetes India.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2020.11.001


Background and aims: COVID-19 is an ongoing global pandemic, affecting nearly 35 million people from 214 countries as at September 30, 2020 and emerging evidence suggests that obesity is a potential risk factor for communicable diseases, including viral infections. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between obesity prevalence of the total adult population and COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, in different countries.

Methods: A total of 54 countries from six continents were selected. Country-specific obesity prevalence data were retrieved from the latest non-communicable diseases profiles released by the Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health Cluster of World Health Organization, while the real time statistics from the Worldometer website were used to extract data on COVID-19 infections and mortality per million of the total population as of September 30, 2020.

Results: Obesity prevalence data ranged from 2.0% (Vietnam) to 35.0% (Saudi Arabia). Among the selected countries, the highest number of COVID-19 cases per million was documented in Qatar (n = 44,789) while the lowest was reported from Vietnam (n = 11). Highest mortality per million population due to COVID-19 infections occurred in Peru (n = 981), in contrast with the smallest number reported in Mongolia (n = 0). A significant positive correlation (r = 0.46; p < 0.001) was observed between the total number of COVID-19 infections and the prevalence of obesity. COVID-19 mortality was also significantly correlated (r = 0.34; p < 0.05) with the prevalence of obesity.

Conclusions: Obesity prevalence in each country was significantly associated with both infection and mortality rate of COVID-19.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:COVID-19, mortality, obesity, prevalence
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Infectious diseases
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the health sciences
UTAS Author:Hills, AP (Professor Andrew Hills)
ID Code:144201
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2021-04-27
Last Modified:2021-06-30

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