Obesity and The Pandemic: New Insights


11-06-21 08:02:00, Obesity rates in women (WHO, 2014)

Published: June 10, 2021
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Has obesity driven not just covid mortality, but the pandemic itself?

Several studies have shown that obese people not only have a higher covid fatality risk, but they also have higher viral loads, exhale more bioaerosols, and do so for a longer period of time. Thus, could obesity have driven not only covid mortality, but the pandemic itself? And could the near-absence of obesity in some East Asian countries explain their remarkable resilience against the covid pandemic?

Please note: This is a scientific analysis; it does not support “fat shaming”.

A) Covid mortality and age Covid fatality rates in the entire population vs. non-nursing home population (Molenberghs)

The preferred framework for explaining covid mortality usually has been age: the older a person, the higher the infection fatality rate. The older the average age of a population, the higher, allegedly, covid mortality (assuming equal infection prevalence).

However, if one excludes the nursing home population in Western countries – which accounts for about 50% of Western covid deaths, but only about 1% of the overall population – the age-gradient of the covid infection fatality rate is actually much less steep than is commonly assumed (see the chart above).

Furthermore, if one excludes Western nursing homes, the covid IFR in the general population is in fact not that much different between, for instance, Europe, the US, South Africa, Latin America and India (about 0.2% to 0.5%).

In most countries, the median age of covid deaths is quite close to the average life expectancy of the country in question, e.g. 80+ in Western Europe, 78 in the USA, 70 in Brazil, and 62 in South Africa. Indeed, the young average age of many Latin American countries, South Africa or India has not at all protected these countries against high covid mortality rates.

It is well known that Sars-Cov-2 uses the ACE2 cell receptor, which is primarily a receptor of the endothelium and the cardiovascular system. Hence it is reasonable to assume that covid severity may be linked to cardiovascular and metabolic health,

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