NEWS

PHE publishes new evidence on the relationship between excess weight and COVID-19

Public Health England has published a report on the relationship between excess weight and the following outcomes of COVID-19:

  • laboratory confirmation
  • hospitalisation
  • admission to intensive or critical care and treatment
  • risk of mortality.

The report, which brings together findings from UK and international studies, explains the prevalence, causes, and risks of being overweight, and discusses food and drink consumption and physical activity during lockdown. Almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight for their height (body mass index [BMI] ≥25kg/m2), which is a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Evidence on the link between weight and COVID-19 outcomes suggests that excess weight is associated with an increased risk of the following: a positive test; hospitalisation; advanced levels of treatment (including mechanical ventilation or admission to intensive or critical care); and death. The risks progressively increase with increasing BMI, even after adjustment for potential confounding factors, such as demographic and socio-economic factors.

In addition, evidence suggests that disparities in excess weight may explain some of the differences in COVID-19 outcomes observed in older adults and some Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups. Excess weight affects all groups, but the effects are more pronounced in people aged 55–74 years, people living in deprived areas, and some BAME groups compared with the general population.