Belgian hospitals have observed that overweight patients infected with Covid-19 run a greater risk to end up in intensive care units, and experience the more serious stages of the disease, such as severe pneumonia and kidney failure.
The findings have been confirmed by Belgium’s Institute of Public Health, Sciensano.
At the hospital of UZ Leuven, about three-quarters (75%) of the positive Covid-19 patients in intensive care units were overweight, hospital officials reported on Tuesday. The body mass index (BMI) was on average 29, just below 30 which defines obesity.
Of the 100 patients who had been in intensive care at the Liège University Hospital, 50% were obese. The average weight of patients in intensive care was 90 kilos.
“Overweight people should get tested,” the Belgian associations for obesity research and treatment Baso and PronoKal group, recommend on Tuesday.
A recent French study showed that the risk of being intubated is 7 times higher with a BMI over 35, compared to a BMI of 25.
“Obese people often also suffer from reduced lung function and are more susceptible to developing lung problems. They also often suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, all of which can worsen the course of the infection,” says Sciensano.
More than half (51%) of Belgians are overweight, with a body mass index greater than 25, according to a survey by the research firm iVOX. Almost one in five Belgians (18%) are obese with a BMI over 30.