DENVER (KDVR) — Walk down any street or visit any business and you’ll encounter someone who is obese. For the first time ever, four out of every 10 Americans meets the definition, up 26% since 2008.
While no one wants to be obese, it does now come with a strange silver lining.
Starting March 5, if your Body Mass Index is higher than 30 and you have any other co-morbidities on the state’s designated list, you may qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Beginning sometime around March 21, a BMI of 30 or higher alone will make you eligible for the vaccine.
“I don’t think there’s any answer for any of this. I think they probably included BMI because of data which suggests a three fold increase in hospitalizations,” said Michelle Barron, the medical director of infection control and prevention at UCHealth.
Dozens of studies have revealed the sickest COVID-19 patients have been people who are obese. According to one study, obese COVID patients are 74% more likely to be admitted to the ICU.
“As your BMI increases so does your risk of death,” explained Barron.
There’s no debating that connection, but there are plenty of skeptics who argue BMI is a faulty indicator of health because it fails to account for muscle mass, bone density, and overall body composition.
Many question whether BMI should be a factor in deciding who should receive the vaccine.
“No matter what you pick there’s going to be someone unhappy because there are so many things that are important and how do you decide?” said Barron.
Fewer people, however, will qualify to receive the vaccine in Colorado based upon BMI. Only 24% of Coloradans are considered obese, the lowest rate in the country.