HealthDay News — Adolescents and adults with overweight or obesity experience more respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 despite similar viral loads compared with normal-weight individuals, according to a study published in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

Wesley A Cheng, from the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed whether age and obesity are risk factors for milder COVID-19 illness. The analysis included 552 individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 who were enrolled between June 2020 and January 2021.

The researchers found that 470 of the 552 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (55.5% adults, 13% adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, and 31.5% children younger than 12 years). Children had fewer symptoms (median 2 vs 3) lasting fewer days (median 5 vs 7) than adolescents and adults. Nearly two-thirds of participants (63.8%) had a body mass index classified as overweight or obese. These individuals showed more symptoms than individuals without overweight or obesity (median 3 vs 2), including more cough and shortness of breath. SARS-CoV-2 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction cycle threshold values were lower in children versus adolescents and adults and in symptomatic individuals compared with asymptomatic individuals.

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“These findings underscore the importance of vaccinating individuals with overweight or obesity,” the authors write. “The data may inform primary care physicians on how to counsel individuals with overweight or obesity regarding expected severity and duration of symptoms.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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