Skip to main content

We use small files called cookies to help us improve your experience on this website and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

Read our cookies policy to find out more about cookies and how we use them.

Obesity and coronavirus

Last updated: 21 May 2020 at 4pm

There has been many misleading reports recently about obesity and coronavirus (COVID-19).

What we know from recent research is that:

  • a high number of people with obesity have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU) with coronavirus
  • people living with obesity have an increased risk of a more severe form of coronavirus

There's no evidence that people with obesity:

  • carry coronavirus without any symptoms for longer than other people
  • have a higher risk of passing coronavirus on to others

Why people living with obesity are more at risk

People living with obesity are at a higher risk of more severe illness.

This is because obesity is sometimes associated with:

  • lung diseases such as sleep apnoea and asthma
  • heart disease - which can reduce oxygen levels in the blood
  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • impaired immune system function and an impaired response to bacterial and viral illness

This increased risk does not apply to all people living with obesity.

There needs to be more research in this area.

Looking after your mental health

It is difficult living with any medical condition during the current uncertainty.

Read advice on minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Related topics

People at higher risk from coronavirus

Dealing with fake health information during the coronavirus pandemic


Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app