Could Hackney obesity play a role in coronavirus rates?

Hospital admissions were obesity is a factor are on the rise. Picture: Clara Molden/PA

Hospital admissions were obesity is a factor are on the rise. Picture: Clara Molden/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Obesity levels in Hackney could be exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic, new research suggests.

A report by NHS Digital, Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet in England 2020, found hospitals around the country saw a spike in admissions where obesity was a factor in the period between April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019.

In Hackney, there were 33 per cent more admissions, an increase to 4,895, over the research period.

It is notable, however, that admissions relating directly to obesity have fallen by 6pc in Hackney in the same time.

New research from The University of Glasgow found increased body mass index (BMI) was linked to suffering severe symptoms of the infection.

According to Age UK, one in 20 people who get Covid-19 will need critical care in hospital.

Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of public health at Public Health England (PHE) and NHS London, said: “Having an accurate understanding of how diseases affect different groups of people is a really important issue and a fundamental part of PHE’s role.

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“The link between obesity and Covid-19 health outcomes is not yet clear, so PHE is rapidly building robust data and undertaking detailed analysis to develop our understanding of the impact of this novel coronavirus on different groups which can inform actions to mitigate the risks it presents.

“We are considering the impact of various factors including obesity, ethnicity, age, gender and geographical location and how these may have an impact on someone’s susceptibility to the virus.”

Hackney has the third highest coronavirus death rate in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The NHS Digital report found there were 876,000 hospital admissions where obesity was a factor nationwide, a hike of 23pc on 2017/18, and 11,117 more directly attributable to obesity, a 4pc increase.

The majority of adults were overweight or obese - 67pc of men and 60pc of women, included 26pc of men and 29pc of women who were obese.

Obesity rates were more than twice as high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

Cllr Chris Kennedy, cabinet member for health in Hackney Council, said it is more important than ever to look after general health during the crisis: “We are doing all we can to support people to make healthier choices in their lives, from taking more exercise to being more mindful with food choices.

“Even through the pandemic and lockdown, we are still giving advice and support to residents, from healthy recipes sent to all residents in Hackney Life, to promoting free exercise routines on our social media channels.”