COVID-19 and Obesity

EASO is committed to sharing only the latest well evidenced information and guidance from credible sources.

The EASO medical and scientific community all across Europe is intensively engaged in addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our clinicians are working in the front line of care daily for patients living with obesity within emergency care systems, in coordination with other clinical colleagues across 34 countries. Our scientists are hard at work developing tools and frameworks for contributing to psychological support for clinicians and patients, developing and implementing public health strategies, providing guidance and support for whole family assistance, and development and provision of advice for children and teens.

Our role in this crisis will be crucial in the dissemination of science-based information and providing common-sense, evidence-based updates, recommendations and guidance via our website and social media, that can reach millions of people. EASO is committed to sharing only the latest well evidenced information and guidance from credible  sources.

People living with the chronic disease obesity are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the novel coronavirus, and appear to have a higher rate of serious complications from the virus. It is paramount that people with obesity avoid infection. We herein recommend that people with obesity shelter at home during this time, following their national guidance for vulnerable people living with chronic disease.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) results in a respiratory infection that causes patients to develop mild to severe symptoms that likely include a dry cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

How can I protect myself and prevent infection?

The World Health Organisation and public health authorities across Europe world-wide describe actions that can help prevent the spread of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses.

Take these steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water
  • Follow good respiratory hygiene. Sneeze and cough into your elbow; when using tissues, immediately dispose of them and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Regularly clean commonly used surfaces, including digital devices you touch or handle

In addition,

  • Try to avoid contact with people who show symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing
  • Avoid travel; check national travel advice
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
  • If you have a scheduled visit with your health-care provider, contact them by phone or online first and follow their protocol. Many clinics have increased their use of telemedicine, since visiting a clinic can increase your risk of being exposed to the virus.
  • For your ongoing health care and for other medical conditions, follow the advice of your health-care provider

Many Europeans are living with stringent travel restrictions and have been advised to stay at home due to COVID-19. Patients with obesity are advised to stay at home. Certainly if you think you may be ill, stay at home and follow the advice below.

I have obesity and I think I may be infected. What should I do?

COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in some people living with obesity, the elderly and individuals with some other chronic health conditions.

If you have obesity and you experience the hallmark symptoms – a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath, continue taking your medication and contact your primary care physician or local health authority.  Remember that most people with COVID-19 will have a comparatively mild illness.

For more detailed information, please see:

The World Health Organisation

The European Commission

National Information on COVID-19

Lancet Resource Centre

To assist health workers and researchers working under challenging conditions to bring this outbreak to a close, The Lancet has created a Coronavirus Resource Centre. EASO links out to the site here: