Many chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are also associated with poor outcomes in COVID-19. It is unclear whether the higher risk associated with obesity is due to health conditions patients with obesity tend to have or whether obesity itself is a risk factor for poor clinical outcomes from COVID-19. Identifying obesity as an independent risk factor is important so that patients with obesity can take extra precautions and health care providers and public health officials can consider this when providing care and making public health decisions.

Researchers in both studies found that those with a bodyweight that was lower or substantially higher than what is considered ‘normal’ had poorer health outcomes, even after accounting for common medical conditions seen in many patients with obesity, in addition to smoking history, age, and sex. Men and those younger than 60 years who had a high body weight were at high risk for death.

High body weight is a risk factor for doing poorly with COVID-19. Adults who are overweight or obese should take extra care in managing their risk for exposure to COVID-19 even if they do not have other health conditions that put them at higher risk.