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Obesity is linked to coronavirus deaths, Dutch researchers say


There is a direct link between obesity and the number of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, according to research carried out on behalf of the lower house of parliament.

Researchers from SEO Economisch Onderzoek looked at the link between lifestyle and the risk of dying of a coronavirus infection, by linking information about lifestyle to deaths before, during and after the pandemic.

During the first two years of the pandemic, 30,000 more people died than would have been expected according to statistics. The researchers found that between 70% and 100% of them were overweight at the time.

In addition, between 57% and 84% of those who were overweight were smokers or had smoked in the past.

The statistics are notable because only 30% of the population have both those characteristics, SEO said.

Lifestyle statistics are collated by the CBS, regional health boards and public health institute RIVM. The impact of other factors, such as drinking alcohol, lack of exercise and loneliness was not as marked as obesity and smoking, SEO said.

Doctors had said during the pandemic they suspected a link between deaths and obesity and that more overweight people were ending up in intensive care.

The SEO findings will now be used by the government to determine vaccination strategy in future pandemics.

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