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Individuals with Obesity and COVID-19: A Global Perspective on the Epidemiology and Biological Relationships


Popkin, Barry M.; Du, Shufa; Green, William D.; Beck, Melinda A.; Algaith, Taghred; Herbst, Christopher H.; Alsukait, Reem F.; Alluhidan, Mohammed; Alazemi, Nahar; & Shekar, Meera (2020). Individuals with Obesity and COVID-19: A Global Perspective on the Epidemiology and Biological Relationships. Obesity Reviews, 21(11), e13128. PMCID: PMC7461480


The linkage of individuals with obesity and COVID-19 is controversial and lacks systematic reviews. After a systematic search of the Chinese and English language literature on COVID-19, 75 studies were used to conduct a series of meta-analyses on the relationship of individuals with obesity-COVID-19 over the full spectrum from risk to mortality. A systematic review of the mechanistic pathways for COVID-19 and individuals with obesity is presented. Pooled analysis show individuals with obesity were more at risk for COVID-19 positive, >46.0% higher (OR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.30-1.65; p < 0.0001); for hospitalization, 113% higher (OR = 2.13; 95% CI, 1.74-2.60; p < 0.0001); for ICU admission, 74% higher (OR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.46-2.08); and for mortality, 48% increase in deaths (OR = 1.48; 95% CI, 1.22-1.80; p < 0.001). Mechanistic pathways for individuals with obesity are presented in depth for factors linked with COVID-19 risk, severity and their potential for diminished therapeutic and prophylactic treatments among these individuals. Individuals with obesity are linked with large significant increases in morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. There are many mechanisms that jointly explain this impact. A major concern is that vaccines will be less effective for the individuals with obesity.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Obesity Reviews


Popkin, Barry M.
Du, Shufa
Green, William D.
Beck, Melinda A.
Algaith, Taghred
Herbst, Christopher H.
Alsukait, Reem F.
Alluhidan, Mohammed
Alazemi, Nahar
Shekar, Meera