University of Alabama researchers link obesity to COVID-19 deaths

Updated: Aug. 21, 2020 at 4:41 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A research team from the University of Alabama says they have determined people living with morbid obesity also have something to worry about when it comes to coronavirus.

They found a significant relationship between the prevalence of obesity and cases of and deaths from COVID-19.

Obesity increases risk from respiratory infections and hurts pulmonary function. There is a pattern in the treatment of COVID-19 patients that obesity is a pervasive problem that brings negative health outcomes like requiring a ventilator.

Researchers looked at deaths from coronavirus at the county level and estimates of morbid obesity rates for each county in the country determined by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I think this is an eye opener for us to really start paying attention to populations, particularly those with high populations of obesity like the south and in Alabama,” Professor Lisa Pawloski said.

“If we can know the populations that are going to be more susceptible to these negative consequences and if we know where they are, then we can allocate our resources better to help as many people as we possibly can,” Prof. Kevin Curtin added.

The short term implications of the research could be used to affect treatment and policy. In the long term, it could suggest more needs to be done to address obesity.

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