Over 27 million severely obese patients across the 9MM could face serious COVID-19

People with severe obesity, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, are now considered to be at risk for developing serious COVID-19 outcomes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countries with a high percentage of obese patients may experience a higher strain on their healthcare system. Leading data and analytics company GlobalData’s epidemiologists have analyzed the proportion of men and women over the age of 18 years across the nine major markets* who are severely obese. GlobalData epidemiologists estimated 27 million individuals over the age of 18 years across the 9MM to be obese in 2020, which corresponds to 1.5% of the total population.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “Studies from previous viral pandemics, such as the swine flu outbreak in 2009, reported severe obesity as an independent risk factor for increased mortality with infection. Data from previous viral pandemics, combined with new emerging data on COVID-19, indicates the importance of including severe obesity in risk group calculations.

“China did not report severe obesity as a risk factor for COVID-19, but this might be due to China having a lower prevalence of severe obesity relative to other Western countries.”

The US has the highest proportion of individuals who are severely obese in the 9MM with a total prevalence of approximately 8%. GlobalData epidemiologists found that the UK has the second highest proportion of its population that are severely obese, with an approximate total prevalence of 2.5%.


Wrenn adds: “Knowing the prevalence of severe obesity in a population can help determine the risk of severe COVID-19 and the number of hospitalized patients. This population may need to be protected to help reduce the number of COVID-19 deaths.”

*9MM: The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan, China and South Korea

More Media