Obesity ‑ a risk factor for increased COVID‑19 prevalence, severity and lethality (Review)

Mol Med Rep. 2020 Jul;22(1):9-19. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2020.11127. Epub 2020 May 5.


Coronaviruses (CoVs), enveloped positive-sense RNA viruses, are a group of viruses that cause infections in the human respiratory tract, which can be characterized clinically from mild to fatal. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) is the virus responsible. The global spread of COVID‑19 can be described as the worst pandemic in humanity in the last century. To date, COVID‑19 has infected more than 3,000,000 people worldwide and killed more than 200,000 people. All age groups can be infected from the virus, but more serious symptoms that can possibly result in death are observed in older people and those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Novel data report more severe symptoms and even a negative prognosis for the obese patients. A growing body of evidence connects obesity with COVID‑19 and a number of mechanisms from immune system activity attenuation to chronic inflammation are implicated. Lipid peroxidation creates reactive lipid aldehydes which in a patient with metabolic disorder and COVID‑19 will affect its prognosis. Finally, pregnancy‑associated obesity needs to be studied further in connection to COVID‑19 as this infection could pose high risk both to pregnant women and the fetus.

Keywords: coVid-19; obesity; lipotoxicity; inflammation; oxidative stress; immune response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2