CDC Study: 66% Of Children Older Than 12 Hospitalized With COVID-19 Are Obese
Overweight boy (10-12) standing on beach- stock photo Zuma Beach, Malibu, California, USA.
(Photo credit: Sean Murphy)

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that of children ages 12 to 17 hospitalized with COVID-19, approximately two-thirds were obese. The study occurred from July to August 2021 and focused on six hospitals located in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas. Researchers also found that the majority of children of all ages hospitalized with the virus had one or more underlying conditions.

According to MedPageToday, the CDC study revealed that “COVID-19 is a much greater threat to kids with obesity, with the average length of their hospital stay double that of kids without obesity.”

The CDC also found that amongst children hospitalized for COVID-19, the average hospital stay was three days, and nearly 30% required being admitted to the intensive care unit:

Among the 713 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 32.5%, 51.3%, and 16.1% had zero, one or two, and three or more underlying medical conditions, respectively.

The most common conditions were obesity (32.4%), asthma or reactive airway disease (16.0%), and feeding tube dependence (8.3%).

Among patients aged 12–17 years, 61.4% had obesity (60.5% of whom had severe obesity). Among patients aged 5–11 years, 33.6% had obesity (60.4% of whom had severe obesity).

Among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 210 (29.5%) had ICU admissions, eight (1.1%) received ECMO, and 11 (1.5%) died.

Of the 385 (54.0%) patients hospitalized for COVID-19 who received oxygen support, high-flow nasal cannula was the most common highest level of support (142; 36.9%); 56 (14.5%) patients received IMV. Across all age groups, the median hospital stay was 3 days, and the median IMV duration was 7 days.

Patients aged 12–17 years had the longest median hospitalizations (4 days) and IMV requirement (9.5 days). Viral coinfection was common among patients aged <1 year (32.4%) and 1–4 years (36.1%); overall, approximately two thirds of viral coinfections were with RSV. 

The new data indicates that the disease targets and impacts patients with pre-existing conditions far worse than healthy individuals who are not obese or without underlying illness:

Approximately two thirds of patients hospitalized for COVID-19, including 83% and 88% of patients aged 5–11 and 12–17 years, respectively, had one or more underlying medical conditions.

Approximately two thirds of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 aged 12–17 years had obesity.

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.

The data, both real-world and clinical, indicates that obesity impacts all patients with COVID-19 regardless of age.

Recently, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a physician at an obesity clinic in Boston told CNN that her office was being “overwhelmed with the volume of patients that have really made that connection between obesity and Covid and the need for them to get appropriate care.”

The Daily Wire also reported earlier on Monday that CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky referred to a study that said more than three-fourths of vaccinated Americans who died from COVID-19 had more than four comorbidities.

“The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So, really, these are people who were unwell to begin with. And yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron; this means not only just to get your primary series but to get your booster series. And yes, we’re really encouraged by these results.”

This article has been updated to include the context of Walensky’s remarks, which was about deaths in the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated

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