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Unwanted weight, not high blood sugar levels, connected with increased threat of COVID-19 infection and long COVID

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High body mass index (BMI), instead of high blood sugar, are connected with excess risks of COVID-19 infection and long COVID, in accordance with a meta-analysis of over 30,000 UK adults from nine large prospective cohort studies.

The findings by Dr. Anika Knuppel from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health insurance and Ageing, University College London, UK, and colleagues are increasingly being presented as of this year’s European Association for the analysis of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden (19-23 Sept).

“Early in the pandemic research identified diabetes and obesity as risk factors for becoming severely ill with COVID-19. And we realize that lots of people coping with type 2 diabetes may also be carrying unwanted weight. Our early findings support the theory that obesity-related mechanisms could be responsible for the surplus risks of COVID-19 connected with diabetes, instead of high blood sugar levels by itself,” says Dr. Knuppel.

Previous research showed that folks with diabetes and obesity will become severely ill and die should they catch COVID-19, but are forget about more likely to contract it. However, the underlying mechanisms, and their role in prolonged post-COVID-19 symptoms (long COVID), remains unclear.

For more information, researchers looked for associations between a variety of clinical characteristics measured prior to the pandemicHbA1c (average blood sugar levels level), self-reported or medication-based diabetes, body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)and self-reported COVID-19 infection and long COVID in nine ongoing UK cohort studies.

The analyses included the newest measurements (taken between 2002 and 2019) of HbA1c, weight, height, waist and hip circumference from each study along with information from questionnaires on health insurance and lifestyle.

All (maximum 31,252, aged 19-75 yrs . old, 57% female) had data on previous measurements and completed a minumum of one questionnaire through the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020 to September 2021) covering questions on COVID-19 and, where possible, questions on along ongoing COVID-19-related symptoms.

Participants reported having COVID-19 predicated on a confident test or strong suspicion. Long COVID was thought as symptoms that continued or affected functioning for longer than a month post-infection and was in comparison to those reporting symptoms for under a month.

Where possible, associations were adjusted for sex, smoking, ethnicity, income, and education during measurement.

Between May 2020 and September 2021, 5,806 participants reported ever having COVID-19, and 584 reported having long COVID (around 7% of COVID-19 cases with info on symptoms length).

Analysis of data from 31,252 participants in nine studies found higher BMI was connected with greater probability of COVID-19 infectionwith the chance 7% higher for every 5kg/m2 upsurge in BMI. People who have overweight (BMI 25-29.9kg/m2) and obesity (30 kg/m2 or greater) had 10% and 16% greater probability of COVID-19 infection, respectively, than healthy weight individuals (significantly less than 25 kg/m2.

Similar results were observed for long COVID (4,243 participants, six studies)with the chance 20% higher for every 5kg/m2 upsurge in BMI. People who have overweight and obesity had 20% and 36% greater probability of long COVID, respectively. However, for both COVID infection and long COVID associations with types of BMI weren’t all statistically significant (so we can not be sure they’re not because of chance).

Analysis investigating the association with WHR were inconclusive.

Notably, studies concentrating on average blood sugar levels level (HbA1c) and diabetes (15,795 participants and 1,917 for long COVID) revealed no association with COVID-19 or long-COVID.

The researchers stress the necessity for further research to explore the mechanisms underpinning these associations also to decrease the excess risk connected with high BMI. “Our early findings suggest a web link of adiposity with COVID-19 infection and long COVID-19 even with considering socio-demographic factors and smoking. We have to further explore why is people who have overweight and obesity prone to worse outcomes and how this pertains to severe cases”, says Knuppel.

The authors acknowledge that the analysis was observational and cannot prove that higher BMI escalates the threat of COVID-19 infection, plus they cannot eliminate the chance that other unmeasured factors (e.g., underlying conditions) or missing data could have affected the outcomes. They also explain that COVID-19 was predicated on suspicion rather than positive test, and clinical measurements taken prior to the pandemic could possibly be outdated for a few of the included studies. Finally, they remember that study participants were healthier compared to the general population which might limit the conclusions which may be drawn.

Citation: Unwanted weight, not high blood sugar levels, connected with increased threat of COVID-19 infection and long COVID (2022, September 17) retrieved 17 September 2022 from

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