In a new study, researchers discovered a link between Covid-19 mortality and the proportion of overweight adults in 154 countries.
The research findings were published in the journal ‘Public Health in Practice‘.
Since the first pandemic of the twenty-first century, links between obesity and mortality have become increasingly apparent, prompting researchers from The University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to investigate whether excess body weight may have been linked to high rates of Covid-19 mortalities around the world.
Hamid Beladi, the Janey S. Briscoe Endowed Chair in Business at UTSA, and his colleagues looked at possible links between Covid-19 mortality and obesity in approximately 5.5 billion persons from 154 countries throughout the world.
The researchers used cutting-edge statistical analysis tools to uncover potential patterns in the data.
“The main finding from the analysis is a statistically significant positive association between Covid-19 mortality and the proportion of the overweight in adult populations spanning 154 countries,” Beladi said.
“This association holds across countries belonging to different income groups and is not sensitive to a population’s median age, the proportion of the elderly, and/or proportion of females,” Beladi added.
According to Beladi, if the proportion of overweight people in a country’s adult population is one percentage point higher than the proportion of overweight people in a second country’s adult population, it is reasonable to predict that Covid-19 mortality in the first country will be 3.5 percentage points higher than in the second.
“The average individual is less likely to die from Covid-19 in a country with a relatively low proportion of the overweight in the adult population, all other things being equal, than she or he would be in a country with a relatively high proportion of the overweight in the adult population,” Beladi said.
According to the authors of the study, excess body weight is linked to a number of comorbidities that can lead to a more severe course of Covid-19 and death.
Individuals with metabolic disorders, for example, are more likely to have a poor Covid-19 outcome. Because excess body weight can lead to a higher volume and duration of infection, it can also lead to a higher level of COVID-19 exposure.
They went on to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has been more deadly on average for adult populations living in overweight areas of the world.
The researchers believe that their findings can be used to support public policy regulations on the food industry, particularly in areas where processed foods, foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats are solid.
The group’s main findings call for immediate and effective regulations that are long overdue, Beladi said, given the current pandemic’s death toll of over 4.5 million people.
“Some firms in the food industry have taken the liberty of using the pandemic as a platform for marketing in ways that are all but conducive to restraining body weight,” Beladi noted.
“Our observed association, between Covid-19 mortality and the share of the overweight in nearly 5.5 billion adults residing across 154 countries that host almost 7.5 billion people around the globe, serves as a caution against putting more lives at stake,” Beladi said.
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