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Background. Obesity is now well recognised as a risk factor for severe COVID‐19, but the true prevalence of obesity in hospitalised adults with COVID‐19 remains unclear because formal body mass indices (BMIs) are not routinely measured on admission.
Objectives. To describe the true prevalence of obesity measured by the BMI, and associated comorbidities, in patients hospitalised with severe COVID‐19, including people with HIV (PWH).
Methods. We conducted a point‐prevalence study of measured BMI in consecutive patients with severe COVID‐19 admitted to the medical COVID‐19 wards in a tertiary academic hospital in Cape Town, South Africa (SA). Patients were enrolled over a 2‐week period during the peak of the first COVID‐19 wave in SA.
Results. We were able to measure the BMI in 122 of the 146 patients admitted during the study period. The prevalence of HIV was 20% (n=24/122). Most of the participants were overweight or obese (n=104; 85%), and 84 (68.9%) met criteria for obesity. The mean (standard deviation) BMI was 33 (7.5), and 34.5 (9.1) in PWH. Of PWH, 83% (n=20/24) were overweight or obese and 75% (n=18) met criteria for obesity. Multimorbidity was present in 22 (92%) of PWH.
Conclusion. We found that most patients, including PWH, met criteria for being overweight or obese. The high prevalence of obesity in PWH and severe COVID‐19 reinforces the need for targeted management of non‐communicable diseases, including obesity, in PWH.
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