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COVID-19 and Weight: What You Need To Know

In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, HALF of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had obesity.1*

COVID-19 and obesity are a dangerous combination.

The higher a patient’s BMI, the greater the risk for hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and death due to COVID-19. Particularly among adults less than 65 years old, obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death.1-3

In a Novo Nordisk–funded US-based model developed by Xcenda®, data collected compared the current scenario (pandemic with current obesity prevalence) and 3 new hypothetical scenarios (pandemic with relative reductions in obesity prevalence), with the goal of determining how lowering the prevalence of obesity can reduce severe COVID-19 outcomes. Data from available literature on the correlation of obesity status (using BMI) and COVID-19 outcomes was incorporated in the model. The model inputs are from a literature review that included 11 systematic reviews with or without meta-analyses and 13 individual studies on the impact of obesity in COVID-19 patients on key outcomes of interest—hospitalization, ICU admission, and death.4

According to this model, during the first 6 months of the pandemic, an initial 25% reduction in the prevalence of obesity could have helped prevent4:

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What’s more, Black and Hispanic Americans are being hit harder—as they are being hospitalized due to COVID-19 at a nearly 3x greater rate than White Americans.5†

*Based on a CDC study of nearly 150,000 hospitalized adults diagnosed with COVID-19 between March and December of 2020 at 238 US hospitals.
Preliminary cumulative rates as of November 07, 2020.

Patients with obesity are vulnerable to developing severe illness from COVID-191,2

Explore the COVID-19 materials below to learn how, even in the midst of the pandemic, patients with obesity can benefit from a comprehensive long-term weight-management plan.

Obesity and COVID-19 data fact sheet

Obesity and COVID-19 Factsheet

This fact sheet presents emerging data regarding the link between COVID-19 and obesity, and provides resources for you and your patients to stay up to date on the latest information.


The importance of weight management through the COVID-19 pandemic

Importance Managing Patients COVID

In this video, Dr. Deborah Bade Horn examines the relationship between obesity and COVID-19, and highlights the critical value of HCP guidance when it comes to long-term weight management.

COVID-19 and Obesity: Addressing the Epidemic of Obesity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Epidemic of Obesity During COVID

Dr. Rekha Kumar, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine and attending endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, discusses how obesity has negatively affected COVID-19–associated hospitalization rates and offers insights into the suboptimal vaccine response that is observed in patients with obesity. Dr. Kumar offers practical information for improving HCP-led obesity management with lifestyle modification, pharmacotherapy, and telehealth.

Quiz cards of relationship between weight, COVID-19, and other respiratory infections

MD Shuffle

Test your knowledge of the relationship between weight, COVID-19, and other respiratory infections through a series of informative quiz cards.

Test yourself
Weight: A matter of health infographic

Weight: A matter of health

This infographic, which can be shared with patients, explains the impact of obesity on COVID-19 and provides an overview of available obesity treatment options.


Treating obesity requires a long-term weight-management plan

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Metabolic adaptation makes weight loss difficult

Explore the science


1. Kompaniyets L, Goodman AB, Belay B, et al. Body mass index and risk for COVID-19–related hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, and death - United States, March-December 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(10):355-361.

2. Popkin BM, Du S, Green WD, et al. Individuals with obesity and COVID-19: a global perspective on the epidemiology and biological relationships. Obes Rev. 2020;21(11):e13128.

3. Hendren NS, de Lemos JA, Ayers C, et al. Association of body mass index and age with morbidity and mortality in patients hospitalized with COVID-19: results from the American Heart Association COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry. Circulation. 2021;143(2):135-144.

4. Xcenda. The impact of obesity on COVID-19 outcomes of hospitalizations and mortality. Accessed April 12, 2021.

5. Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated hospitalizations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary cumulative rates as of Nov 07, 2020. Accessed March 13, 2021.

6. COVID-19: people with certain medical conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed March 18, 2021.

7. Richardson S, Hirsch JS, Narasimhan M, et al. Presenting characteristics, comorbidities, and outcomes among 5700 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area 
[published correction appears in JAMA. 2020;323(20):2098]. JAMA. 2020;323(20):2052-2059.

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