Majority of Teenagers Hospitalized With COVID-19 Had Severe Obesity: CDC Study

Most teenagers hospitalized with COVID-19 across six major hospitals over the summer were severely obese, according to a recently published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study.

Researchers with the agency and children’s hospitals examined data on adolescents who went to hospitals in July or August and had COVID-19.

Of the 713 patients identified as being hospitalized for COVID-19, approximately two-thirds had one or more underlying medical conditions, with obesity being the most common (32.4 percent).

Among children 12 through 17, 61.4 percent of the patients were obese. Most of them were described as having severe obesity.

Among children aged 5 to 11, 33.6 percent were obese.

“Compared with patients without obesity, those with obesity required higher levels and longer duration of care. These findings are consistent with previous reports and highlight the importance of obesity and other medical conditions as risk factors for severe COVID-19 in children and adolescents,” authors wrote in the study, which has not yet been peer reviewed.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, primarily causes severe illness in people with serious underlying conditions, including obesity and kidney disease, according to the CDC.

“Having obesity puts people at risk for many other serious chronic diseases and increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” the CDC says on its website.

Researchers also found that children who weren’t vaccinated were more likely to end up in the hospital for COVID-19.

In another recent study, a peer reviewed paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that COVID-19 patients who were obese but had had weight loss surgery were less likely to require hospitalization, supplemental oxygen, or have severe disease.

Researchers with the Cleveland Clinic said the findings “represent the best available evidence on the implications of a successful weight loss intervention for COVID-19 outcomes.”

“The results of this study should not be misinterpreted as demonstrating the superiority of weight loss surgery over nonsurgical treatment of obesity because the control group consisted of patients with obesity and was not exclusively composed of patients who were actively pursuing behavioral interventions or weight loss medications for their obesity,” they added.


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.