The US wouldn't have had so many COVID-19 hospitalisations if they weren't so fat, research has found.
According to the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), 30 percent of people hospitalised in the US with COVID-19 had obesity as a pre-existing condition.
Researchers found most COVID-19 hospitalisations could have been prevented if Americans didn't suffer from four cardiometabolic conditions: obesity (30 percent), hypertension (26 percent), diabetes (21 percent), and heart failure (12 percent).
"Our findings call for interventions to determine whether improving cardiometabolic health will reduce hospitalisations, morbidity, and health care strains from COVID-19," says lead author Dariush Mozaffarian.
"We know that changes in diet quality alone, even without weight loss, rapidly improve metabolic health within just six to eight weeks.
"It's crucial to test such lifestyle approaches for reducing severe COVID-19 infections, both for this pandemic and future pandemics likely to come."
The model used data from the 906,849 COVID-19 hospitalisations in the US as of November 18, 2020.
It also considered the age and race/ethnicity of hospitalisations due to the four conditions. About 8 percent of hospitalisation among adults under 50 were estimated to be due to diabetes, compared to 29 percent of those aged 65 and older.
The study also noted that COVID-19 hospitalisations were higher in Black adults than white, and the rate of diabetes and obesity was higher in Hispanic adults compared to white.
For example, among young adults aged 18-49, the conditions were estimated to cause about 39 percent of hospitalisations among white adults, versus 50 percent among Black.
"National data show that Black and Hispanic Americans are suffering the worst outcomes from COVID-19," Dr Mozaffarian said.
"Our findings lend support to the need for prioritising vaccine distribution, good nutrition and other preventive measures to people with cardiometabolic conditions, particularly among groups most affected by health disparities."