Young adults with underlying conditions such as morbid obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are at the highest risk of being placed on a ventilator or dying from Covid-19, according to a study of 3,000 hospitalized patients aged 18 to 34.
The analysis, published on Wednesday in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, focused on patients hospitalized between April and June in the United States.
It confirmed first and foremost that black and Hispanic people have been the worst affected by the pandemic: They accounted for 57% of all young adults who were hospitalized and 49% of those who died or needed ventilation.
They represent about a third of all young people.
As has been seen in other age groups, males are at greater risk than females - representing 58% of hospitalized cases among young people and 65% of young people who died or were placed on ventilators.
People with morbid obesity - defined as having a body mass index of 40 or more - were extremely over-represented, accounting for 41% who needed ventilation or died.
This was followed by high blood pressure, which accounted for 31% of intubated and dead patients, and diabetes, representing 27% of intubated and dead patients.
Young people with all three of these underlying conditions had the same risk for death or intubation as middle-aged (35-64) patients without the conditions. The study joins multiple others indicating that obese people are at a higher risk of complications from Covid-19.
A meta-analysis of multiple studies involving 399,000 patients, published in August in the journal Obesity Reviews, estimated that obese people were twice as likely to be hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus, compared with people who are not obese.