According to a recent article in the French newspaper Le Monde, 83% of patients in intensive care in France are overweight or obese. However, the data are not yet available in practice and it is not yet clear whether obesity or being overweight alone (because it is often associated with other risk factors such as Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.) makes people susceptible to COVID 19 severe complications.
The majority of patients in intensive care are overweight
In several university hospitals in France, doctors noticed a strong presence of overweight and obese patients. Statistics on this subject are currently unavailable, but it does seem rather logical given that obesity also leads to many chronic health conditions. In the US where the coronavirus is wreaking havoc one in two adults is obese. As data from the US becomes available more light will be shed on the relationship between obesity and the risk of ending in intensive care after infection with COVID 19.
So far, the only European data actually published in the scientific literature comes from the Italian intensive care unit in Lombardy, and there is no information on the weight of the patients.
How can this be explained?
Apart from the comorbidities recognized to make Covid-19 more fatal, it is already known that obesity is a risk factor for pulmonary embolisms. Other biological mechanisms, such as the inflammatory field and the presence of fat in the lungs, may explain why overweight patients are at a higher risk than patients with healthy weights. But so far, it would be premature to look for an explanation for a phenomenon we do not even know for sure exist: more robust data are needed to determine if the percentage of overweight patients in relation to the total number of cases admitted to the ICU is really high.
And since we are talking about weight, it is highly recommended to stay active in particular during the confinement period. Exercising every day, even in confined spaces is a must; just walking around in one’s room or doing house chores can make a big difference to one’s health. Likewise going for healthier foods and avoiding junk food could go a long way to keeping the immune system in top shape.