Washington [US], September 18: Having a high body mass index (BMI) rather than having high blood sugar levels is associated with an increased risk of Covid-19 infection and prolonged Coronavirus, suggests a study.
Dr Anika Knuppel of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at University College London, UK, and colleagues presented their findings at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, this year (19-23 Sept).
"Early in the pandemic research identified diabetes and obesity as risk factors for becoming severely ill with COVID-19. And we know that many people living with type 2 diabetes are also carrying excess weight. Our early findings support the idea that obesity-related mechanisms may be responsible for the excess risks of COVID-19 associated with diabetes, rather than high blood sugar per se," Dr Knuppel asserts.
Previous studies found that patients with diabetes and obesity are more likely to become severely ill and die if they contract Covid-19. The underlying mechanisms, however, and their relevance in prolonged post-COVID-19 symptoms (long COVID), remain unclear.
To learn more, researchers examined nine ongoing UK cohort studies for associations between a variety of clinical characteristics measured before the pandemic—HbA1c (average blood sugar 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 .
The analyses included the most recent HbA1c, weight, height, waist, and hip circumference measurements (taken between 2002 and 2019) from each research, as well as information from health and lifestyle questionnaires.
All eligible participants (maximum 31,252, aged 19-75 years old, 57% female) had data on previous measurements and completed at least one questionnaire during the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020 to September 2021).
Based on a positive test or high suspicion, participants reported having COVID-19. Long COVID was defined as symptoms that persisted or hindered functioning for more than four weeks after infection and were compared to individuals who reported symptoms for less than four weeks.
Associations were adjusted for gender, smoking, ethnicity, income, and education at the time of measurement where possible.
Between May 2020 and September 2021, 5,806 participants reported having COVID-19 at some point in their lives, with 584 reporting having long COVID (about 7% of COVID-19 instances with information on symptoms length).