Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

INTRODUCTION: Despite a growing body of scholarly research on the risks of severe COVID-19 associated with diabetes, hypertension and obesity, there is a need for estimating pooled risk estimates with adjustment for confounding effects. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the pooled adjusted risk ratios of diabetes, hypertension and obesity on COVID-19 mortality. METHODS: We searched 16 literature databases for original studies published between 1 December 2019 and 31 December 2020. We used the adapted Newcastle-Ottawa Scale to assess the risk of bias. Pooled risk ratios were estimated based on the adjusted effect sizes. We applied random-effects meta-analysis to account for the uncertainty in residual heterogeneity. We used contour-funnel plots and Egger's test to assess possible publication bias. RESULTS: We reviewed 34 830 records identified in literature search, of which 145 original studies were included in the meta-analysis. Pooled adjusted risk ratios were 1.43 (95% CI 1.32 to 1.54), 1.19 (95% CI 1.09 to 1.30) and 1.39 (95% CI 1.27 to 1.52) for diabetes, hypertension and obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2) on COVID-19 mortality, respectively. The pooled adjusted risk ratios appeared to be stronger in studies conducted before April 2020, Western Pacific Region, low- and middle-income countries, and countries with low Global Health Security Index scores, when compared with their counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: Diabetes, hypertension and obesity were associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 mortality independent of other known risk factors, particularly in low-resource settings. Addressing these chronic diseases could be important for global pandemic preparedness and mortality prevention. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42021204371.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Glob Health

Publication Date





COVID-19, Diabetes, Hypertension, Systematic review