Aims: We examined the link between BMI and risk of a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 and risk of COVID-19-related death among UK Biobank participants. Methods: Among 4855 participants tested for SARS-CoV-2 in hospital, 839 were positive and of these 189 died from COVID-19. Poisson models with penalised thin plate splines were run relating exposures of interest to test positivity and case-fatality, adjusting for confounding factors. Results: BMI was associated strongly with positive test, and risk of death related to COVID-19. The gradient of risk in relation to BMI was steeper in those under 70, compared with those aged 70 years or older for COVID-19 related death (Pinteraction = 0.03). BMI was more strongly related to test positivity (Pinteraction = 0.010) and death (Pinteraction = 0.002) in non-whites (predominantly South Asians and Afro-Caribbeans), compared with whites. Conclusions: These data add support for adiposity being more strongly linked to COVID-19-related deaths in younger people and non-white ethnicities. If future studies confirm causality, lifestyle interventions to improve adiposity status may be important to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in all, but perhaps particularly, non-white communities.


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Sattar, N., Ho, F., Gill, J., Ghouri, N., Gray, S., Celis-Morales, C., Katikireddi, S., Berry, C., Pell, J., McMurray, J. & Welsh, P. 2020, 'BMI and future risk for COVID-19 infection and death across sex, age and ethnicity: preliminary findings from UK biobank', Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 14(5), pp. 1149-1151. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsx.2020.06.060

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Last updated: 29 June 2022
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