Based on evidence from recent studies, data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, obesity increases the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 at any age. GlobalData’s epidemiology data on obesity and Covid-19 confirm this for the seven major markets (7MM) when comparing data for Japan to that for the US and major European countries.

The CDC study used data from the Premier Healthcare Database Special Covid-19 Release from 148,494 adults ages 18 years and older who received a Covid-19 diagnosis during an emergency department or inpatient visit at 238 US hospitals from March to December last year. The study found that 28.3% of these patients were overweight and 50.8% had obesity. In addition, a WHO report revealed that 90% of global Covid-19 deaths have occurred in countries where half the population is obese. The report also found that death rates were ten times higher in these countries, with the UK and the US being leading examples.

GlobalData’s Epidemiology and Market Size database shows that among the 7MM, Japan shows a significantly lower prevalence of overweight and obesity compared to the US and major European countries (see Figure 1). Japan also has a far lower number of Covid-19 deaths (69 per 1,000,000 population) compared to the US and European countries, where this number ranges from 900 per 1,000,000 population to 1600 per 1,000,000 population (see Table 1), and where there is no clear correlation between obesity prevalence and Covid-19 deaths. However, this analysis does not take the infection and testing rates of individual countries into account.