The report, which described a “dramatic” correlation between countries’ Covid-19 death and obesity rates, found that 90% or 2.2 million of the 2.5 million deaths from the pandemic disease so far were in countries with high levels of obesity.
Strikingly, the authors said, there is no example of a country where people are generally not overweight or obese having high Covid-19 death rates.
“Look at countries like Japan and South Korea, where they have very low levels of Covid-19 deaths as well as very low levels of adult obesity,” said Tim Lobstein, an expert advisor to the World Obesity Federation and visiting professor at Australia’s Sydney University who co-led the report.
“They have prioritised public health across a range of measures, including population weight, and it has paid off in the pandemic.”
By contrast, the report found that in the United States and Britain, for example, both Covid-19 death rates and obesity levels were among the highest.
The United Kingdom has the world’s third-highest coronavirus death rate and the fourth-highest obesity rate – 184 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 and 63.7% of adults overweight, according to WHO data – followed by the United States, with 152.49 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 and 67.9% of adults overweight.
John Wilding, a professor of medicine at Britain’s University of Liverpool and president of the World Obesity Federation, said obesity should be recognised as a key Covid-19 health risk and taken into account in vaccination plans.
“It’s really important that we recognise that obesity … increases the risk,” he said in a statement about the report’s findings. “Therefore, like other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, people with obesity should be considered for early priority in vaccination programmes across the world.”