Overweight woman exercising

How does your weight affect the coronavirus? Obesity is one of the underlying conditions that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says increases the risk of serious, possibly life-threatening, symptoms of COVID-19.

Being overweight is a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29, but a BMI of 30 or above is considered obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for many serious illnesses that are also considered underlying medical conditions.

So, if you are obese, your weight puts you at higher risk for being sicker and having more complications if you catch COVID-19.

COVID and Obesity

While more research is needed, it appears that the likelihood of developing severe symptoms is increased for people whose weight is considered obese primarily because they typically have other underlying conditions, such as:

Studies to date are limited because many of the countries that have collected data did not gather BMI information. It is currently unknown if related factors beyond BMI, such as waist circumference, glucose levels and insulin levels, have an impact on risk.

Staying Safe

The best way to fight the coronavirus is through prevention:

  • Practice social distancing (6 feet away or more)
  • Practice good hand hygiene (wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol)
  • Wear a mask and ask anyone around you to wear one too
  • Consider your higher risk as you decide whether to go out and avoid crowded areas as much as possible
  • Continue to take all medications and treatments as prescribed
  • Make sure you get the health care you need and consider consulting a medical professional about weight loss options

Staying Healthy

Whether you are obese or overweight, it's especially important now to take care of your health. Developing or maintaining healthy habits can help boost your immune system and decrease your risk for other underlying conditions.

Learn more about how to maintain these healthy habits during the pandemic:

About Obesity

More than 42 percent of people in the United States are obese. According to the CDC, obesity can be found in any group of people but is seen more often in Black (50 percent), Latinx (45 percent) and white (42 percent) populations. It affects men and women equally.

Obesity is most prevalent in middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years (45 percent), followed by older adults aged 60 and over (43 percent) and young adults aged 20 to 39 years (40 percent).