FOX 2 - A year into the pandemic and new data is emerging on why the Covid death toll in the US is the 8th worst in the world. New research suggests obesity is a leading contributor.
The World Obesity Federation has released staggering stats this week on how much obesity factors in on COVID-19 death tolls.
The study shows a risk of death from the virus 10 times higher in countries where most of the population is overweight.
Seventy percent of the adults in the US are overweight or obese, based on body mass index.
"Obesity is a disease, it's a risk factor for other diseases but its also a disease," said Johanna Ralston. "Obesity is often not understood as a disease or treated as a disease in health care systems."
Ralston is the CEO of The World Obesity Foundation. A graphic from the study paints the picture with death tolls in red, obesity rates in blue. the countries with significantly lower obesity numbers have fewer Covid deaths.
Out of the 2.5 million deaths reported worldwide in February, 90-percent of those from countries where over half of the population is overweight.
"It's been humbling in a way to realize how much we have to learn from other places where covid has been less of a challenge and in fact, in where obesity is less of a challenge as well," Ralston said.
Age remains the leading factor in Covid severity and Ralston says body weight is a strong, second predictor.
A recent study out of Italy on the Pfizer vaccine - shows people that who are overweight or obese may actually need more of the Covid vaccine or even a booster shot to make it as effective as it can be.