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*

A pandemic meets an epidemic

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†

Now is the time to Rethink Obesity®

*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 fact sheet

This fact sheet presents data regarding the link between COVID-19 and obesity.


Treating obesity requires a long-term weight-management plan

Get started

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.


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