From health conditions underlying advanced age, it is known that several risk factors increase the risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus.
Now, a new study has warned that being obese may double the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow analyzed data from 428,225 Britons and found that as the body mass index (BMI) increased, the risk of having a severe case of the disease increased.
Speaking with The timesPaul Welsh, who led the study, said: "We certainly think that from what we've seen, BMI is part of the picture.
“Previous studies have really focused, when patients are in the hospital, who ends up needing ventilation and who ends up dying.
"And we've seen in a number of different studies that obese patients tend to progress worse. People with obesity are more likely to end up in the hospital with Covid."
In the study, the team used statistical analysis to understand whether being overweight plays a role in the chance of serious coronavirus infection.
His analysis revealed that being obese doubles the risk of needing hospital treatment – although the reason remains uncertain.
One theory suggests that low-grade inflammation caused by extra fat can negatively affect the immune system, leading to more serious complications.
It is also known that obesity increases the risk of thrombosis (blood clotting), which may be relevant, considering an emerging link between the coronavirus and deadly blood clots.
The findings come shortly after Matt Hancock ordered an urgent investigation into why coronavirus deaths in ethnic and obese minorities are so high.
He said: "Our knowledge of this virus grows daily and it appears that some groups are more affected than others.
"Emerging data from around the world suggest that there may be a link between obesity and the impact of Covid-19 on individuals.
"It is too early to say whether obesity itself is a factor or conditions associated with it – or if there is not yet enough data to discard it – so we need to approach any assumptions with caution.
"Every death from this virus is a tragedy and, behind every statistic, there is a name, a loss and a family that will never be the same".