Nearly 90 percent of coronavirus fatalities have occurred in countries with high obesity levels, according to researchers — who now want overweight people to be prioritized for vaccinations.
Death rates were 10 times higher in countries such as the US where at least 50 percent of the total population is overweight, according to a World Health Organization-backed study released Thursday by the World Obesity Federation.
“[This] must act as a wake-up call to governments globally,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to the Financial Times. “The correlation between obesity and mortality rates from COVID-19 is clear and compelling.”
Weight is now believed to be the second-biggest predictor of severe illness from the virus after age, according to the study, which represents medical professionals at 50 regional and national obesity associations.
For the report, researchers examined mortality data from Johns Hopkins University and the WHO Global Health Observatory data that showed a total of 2.2 million of the 2.5 million deaths worldwide were in countries with high levels of obesity.
Researchers didn’t find any examples of high COVID-19 death rates in countries where less than 40 percent of the population was overweight, according to the report.
For example, Vietnam has the lowest coronavirus death rate in the world and the second-lowest level of overweight people, at just 0.04 deaths per 100,000 from COVID-19 with 18.3 percent of adults overweight, according to WHO data.
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