- The CDC has updated its coronavirus guidelines with new information that puts two-thirds of Americans in the at-risk category for severe COVID-19 cases.
- The Commission now says it’s not just obese people who are at risk of developing coronavirus complications, but also overweight people in general.
- Obesity is still a high-risk condition for COVID-19, while overweight people “might be at increased risk for severe illness.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its coronavirus guidelines with new information, a process we’ve witnessed quite a few times this year. As new reliable information surrounding COVID-19 becomes available, the agency updates the information it releases to the public. The updates aren’t always apparent though. For example, the CDC kept adding coronavirus symptoms to its list in recent months without making any related announcements. Other updates are more controversial, like the advice for COVID-19 contact testing or the airborne transmission draft that was published early and then withdrawn. The latest change the CDC made to its online documentation is of the former variety. It’s information that was quietly added to its pages, but it’s data that the general public needs to be aware of. This information is all the more crucial because it puts as many as two-thirds of Americans on notice that they may be at risk of severe coronavirus complications. And it’s all because of those extra pounds.
The CDC made the change to its COVID-19 guidelines on Tuesday, reports Bloomberg, and concerns the relationship between weight and COVID-19 severity. The COVID-19 risk for overweight people made the news recently after President Trump tested positive. His gender, age, and weight are all risk factors for COVID-19. Multiple studies have shown that obese people risk complications, especially men who might not suffer from any other apparent medical conditions. Weight is also a sensitive topic when it comes to vaccine efficacy. Overweight people might not respond to vaccines as well as the rest of the population, whether it’s a vaccine for coronavirus or something else.
Following the update, the CDC now says it’s not just obese people who are at risk of severe COVID-19 cases. Overweight people in general might be at risk as well, according to the update. The warning means that some two-thirds of Americans might risk facing a more severe version of COVID-19.
Bloomberg points out that the CDC’s own data about obesity and weight indicates that 40% of American adults are obese, and another 32% are overweight. The data comes from a 2018 study, which is relatively new. The greater the weight, the higher the risk of severe COVID-19 that requires hospitalization. The risk of death also goes up with a higher body mass index (BMI). The BMI formula takes into account the weight and height of a person to estimate fat percentage. Overweight people have a BMI of 25 to 30 kg/square meter. Values over 30 lead to an obesity diagnosis.
The CDC’s COVID-19 risk guidelines say that obesity (BMI between 30 and 40) and severe obesity (BMI over 40) are conditions linked to increased risk of severe COVID-19. “Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19,” reads the guidelines section that now lists overweight people (BMI between 25 and 30) as being at risk.