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Objectives. Obesity and old age are commonly assumed to be risk factors for COVID-19 mortality. On a worldwide basis, we examine quantitative measures of obesity and elderly in the populations of individual countries and territories, and investigate whether these measures are predictive of COVID-19 mortality in those countries. In particular, we highlight regional differences relative to obesity and elderly metrics, and how these relate to COVID-19 mortality.
Methods. In this retrospective, population-based study, we obtained data relating to percentages of obese or elderly individuals in 199 countries, as well as COVID-19 mortality rates in these countries. We used negative binomial regression analyses to assess associations between COVID-19 mortality rates and the putative risk factors, in six regions – Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America.
Results. We found significant differences between regions relative to COVID-19 mortality, as well as obesity and elderly population proportions. There were also substantial differences between countries within regions relative to proportions of obesity and elderly individuals, and COVID-19 mortality.
Conclusions. There are significant differences both between regions and within regions relative to COVID-19 mortality rates, as well as proportions of obese or elderly individuals. A global pronouncement that obesity and elderly constitute definitive risk factors for COVID-19 mortality masks the subtleties engendered by these intra- and inter-regional differences.
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