A study by the Cleveland Clinic found that people who were obese undergoing bariatric surgery had a 60 percent lower risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.

A study by the Cleveland Clinic found that obese people who had previously lost weight from bariatric surgery were associated with a 60% increased risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.


Obesity is a complex, chronic disease that can affect several organs of the body, can cause other related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, all of which are known risk factors for severe COVID-19.

Studies have shown that obese people who develop COVID-19 have a higher risk of hospitalization, invasive ventilation, or death, but can weight loss before coronavirus infection reduce their risk of developing serious illness?

A new study published in the journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday, December 29, “provides reasonably sound evidence that this is the case.”

According to a study by the Cleveland Clinic, more than 20,000 obese people who underwent weight loss surgery years before their coronavirus infection were 60% less likely to have severe complications of COVID-19 than those who had previously lost weight.

Previous weight loss was also associated with a 49% և 63% lower risk և hospitalization requirement of additional oxygen requirements, respectively.

The findings are relative, meaning that obese people who have completed weight loss surgery are not guaranteed a reduced risk of severe COVID-19. But researchers say their findings show that those who became infected were healthier at the time of their infection, which could explain their better clinical outcomes and point to obesity as a “variable risk factor”.

The study was funded by a research grant from Medtronic, an American-Irish medical equipment company, but researchers say the company did not play a role in the design, collection, management, interpretation or review of the study.

The patients in the study underwent weight loss surgery from 2004 to 2017, which gave the researchers plenty of time to determine whether the health benefits gained over time could help reduce the risk of patients with severe COVID-19. The study did not say whether the devices developed by Medtronic were used during the surgery.

“The astonishing results of the current study confirm the reversibility of obesity trauma in patients with COVID-19,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, chief academic officer of the Cleveland Clinic Institute of Cardiology, Vascular and Thoracic. news release. “This study shows that focusing on weight loss as a public health strategy can improve outcomes in the event of a COVID-19 epidemic, future outbreaks, or related infectious diseases.”

About 5,000 obese people who underwent weight loss surgery were compared to a control group of more than 15,000 non-surgical patients. Although clinical outcomes were better during surgery, the researchers found no lower risk of coronavirus infection among the groups.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of the US population is obese. However, researchers predict that this percentage will increase over the years.

A 2019 Harvard study estimates that half of the US adult population will be obese and about a quarter will be severely obese by 2030.

“We believe this study is reasonably sound evidence that obesity is a variable risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection, and that successful weight loss intervention may play a role in improving COVID-19 outcomes.” wrote the researchers. “Because clinical trials are not feasible in this environment, the results of this study provide the best available evidence for a successful weight loss intervention for COVID-19 results.”

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Katie Cameron is a reporter for McClatchy National Real-Time Science. He is a graduate of Boston University է reported for The Wall Street Journal, Science և The Boston Globe.