Being obese can reduce the chances of surviving severe cases of Covid-19, new research has found.
Reduced lung function and inflamed tissue under the skin and around internal organs could be linked to the increased risk, according to joint research from universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Imperial College London.
The researchers found both factors can trigger a life-threatening over-reaction of the body’s immune response that causes harm to patients.
Being male is also linked to more serious Covid-19 hospital admissions, the study of 17,000 patients in the UK found.
Dr Annemarie Docherty, of the University of Edinburgh, who co-led the analysis, said: “Hard data cannot convey the human story of individuals and their loved ones who have suffered, changed or sadly passed due to Covid-19.
“Yet with every contribution to this important study, patients and their carers, with the assistance of dedicated researchers, have struck a blow in the fight to curb this pandemic.”
Analysis was carried out by 2,500 research nurses across 166 hospitals in the UK, and is the largest study of its kind outside of China.
The obesity trend was not identified in China, where it is thought fewer people are severely overweight.
Dr Kenneth Baillie, who leads the consortium that conducted the study, said: “Gathering this information took tremendous dedication and effort from thousands of research staff across the UK.
“Together they have created an open resource that will be used by scientists across the world to better understand this new disease.”
While it was previously known Covid-19 severely affected older people and those with chronic diseases, less is known about how it affects those with other underlying health conditions, including obesity.
The research team have shared the data with the UK Government and World Health Organisation in the hope it could provide greater insight into other research.