U.K. May Warn the Obese They’re More Vulnerable to Coronavirus

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(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. may warn obese people they’re more at risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus.

The British government’s top scientific advisers discussed evidence that excess weight is a significant risk factor for those who contract Covid-19 at a meeting on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the talks.

It’s not yet clear if the government will decide to go ahead and change its guidance to the public. The Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Data indicate being obese can lead to more severe illness and hospitalization, the meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies was told. Research published last year showed 29% of adults in England were classified as obese.

The U.K. reported its highest daily increase in the number of deaths from the disease on Wednesday, as the pandemic heads toward an expected peak in the coming weeks.

France has already said obesity is a risk factor for those with coronavirus, and the U.K. scientists agreed it might be necessary to include the warning in public advice, even though a person’s weight isn’t the most critical factor determining the severity of illness.

The British government currently lists a range of conditions including asthma and diabetes as making people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 -- but not obesity.

The panel also concluded that wider use of face masks by the public would have minimal effect on preventing infection, and confirmed its view that a 7-day isolation period for those with symptoms of the disease is sufficient to stop contagion.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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