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  1. ITV Report

Family's shock as retired shopkeeper could have 'died of Covid-19 due to obesity'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

Retired shopkeeper Ali Kiraz Ozel, from Southend-on-Sea, led an active life but was overweight.

Before the coronavirus outbreak he was still running around with his grandchildren. He was 66 and hadn't been sent a letter telling him to shield but he had been taking extra precautions because he had diabetes.

But his family are now shocked to hear his obesity could explain why he died after he fell ill with Covid-19.

Ali Kiraz Ozel's family were shocked to hear his obesity could explain why he died after contracting Covid-19. Credit: Family handout/ITV News

"I think going forward there should certainly be more emphasis and making sure people are aware that certain conditions could have a devastating impact if Covid-19 is caught.

His daughter, Sevtap Ahmet, told ITV News: "Obviously with dad being overweight and his diabetes... We didn't think that would cause him to die suddenly, but it's had a massive impact.

In the largest study of its kind so far, scientists looked at blood samples taken from more than 20,000 patients who'd been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK to understand the effects of the disease.

And they found that being overweight carries substantial risks, even when a patient has no other underlying health conditions.

Retired shopkeeper Ali Kiraz Ozel led an active life. Credit: Family handout/ITV News

Research Leader, Professor Calum Semple, said: "Even taking everything else into account, big people are doing really badly and that's been a very surprising characteristic in this study.

"To put it into context, if you had an average risk of death coming into hospital, being obese increases the hazard of death by about a third."

The research teams have been surprised by what they've found, but as they continue to add thousands of new blood samples to their database, they're slowly building a better picture of why coronavirus is proving deadly in some cases.