Covid-19 has killed more people than obesity in the UK this year – Full Fact


Posted: September 29, 2020 at 7:54 am

A post on Instagram compares the number of deaths on one day from Covid-19 to an estimated number of daily deaths from obesity.

The post reads: Coronavirus killed 9 people out of 66.6m yesterday Obesity kills 30,000 a year or 82 people per day. Were all running around wearing masks imposed by the same government that was giving us half price McDonalds a fortnight ago.

The original post was shared last week, when the UK daily death toll had been consistently higher than nine. The last time the death toll was nine was on 9 September. If you look at the deaths by the day they were reported rather than when they actually happened then there were nine deaths reported on 14 September.

If we look at the number of deaths for which obesity was the direct cause, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest 534 people who died in 2019 in England and Wales had obesity as the underlying cause of death, down from 539 the year before.

However, the ONS has warned that, because the underlying cause of death is defined as the disease or injury that initiated the train of events directly leading to death, the number of deaths attributed to obesity is likely to be an underestimate, as obesity is usually a background factor that causes another condition.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of common causes of disease and death, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

In March 2017, Public Health England said it was estimated that obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year, which appears to be the source of this posts claim and would put the daily death count at around 82.

These figures shouldnt be used to compare the total impact of Covid-19 and obesity.

Assuming that 30,000 is a reasonable estimate for annual deaths caused by obesity, we already know that there have been 42,001 Covid-19 deaths in the UK (and 37,299 deaths in England alone) in the last six monthsjust half the time. (We also know that the true figure is likely to be higher than this, as government data only includes people who had a positive Covid-19 test before they died, and who died within 28 days of their first positive test).

As for the posts final comment, it is correct that the government has enforced the wearing of face coverings in certain situations. It is also correct that, under the governments Eat Out to Help Out scheme, diners could receive a discount on meals at McDonalds of up to 50% of their mealup to 10 per person.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about thisand find out how to report Facebook contenthere. For the purposes of that scheme, weve rated this claim as missing context because the selection of statistics makes it appear like obesity kills more people annually than Covid-19.

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Covid-19 has killed more people than obesity in the UK this year - Full Fact

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