Over 40% of American adults are overweight. A recent COVID-NET report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that half of the COVID-19 patients are obese. Additionally, 89% of people who were ill enough to be hospitalized are reported to have at least one pre-existing health condition. Some of the underlying health conditions reported: hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease; all are prevalent in the black community.
According to a statement on the CDC website (which has since been removed):
“Severe obesity increases the risk of a serious breathing problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a major complication of COVID-19 and can cause difficulties with a doctor’s ability to provide respiratory support for seriously ill patients. People living with severe obesity can have multiple serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
Key findings from the report:
- From March 1–28, 2020, the overall laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated hospitalization rate was 4.6 per 100,000 population; rates increased with age, with the highest rates among adults aged ≥65 years.
- Approximately 90% of hospitalized patients identified through COVID-NET had one or more underlying conditions, the most common being obesity, hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease.
- COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates were higher among males than among females (5.1 versus 4.1 per 100,000 population).
- Among patients with race/ethnicity data (580), 261 (45.0%) were non-Hispanic white (white), 192 (33.1%) were non-Hispanic black (black), 47 (8.1%) were Hispanic, 32 (5.5%) were Asian, two (0.3%) were American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 46 (7.9%) were of other or unknown race.
Other factors like stress, age, and race increase risks. NPR recently reported at length about how the data released by the CDC point to racial disparities in COVID-19 cases. One of them being genetics.
There are several factors, including some genetic ones, that may make African Americans more vulnerable to COVID-19. “There have been a few studies that have pointed to African Americans potentially having genetic risk factors that make them more salt-sensitive,” says Renã Robinson, a professor of chemistry who researches chronic disease at Vanderbilt University. This may increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, which, in turn, is linked to more serious forms of COVID-19. “It could be a contributing factor,” she says, but there are likely multiple causes at play.
In efforts to flatten the curve and keep people at high risk safe, the CDC promotes social distancing, healthy eating, and sheltering in.
To read more about the impact of COVID-19 on the black community, click here.