Coronavirus patients who are obese are reportedly at higher risk of becoming critically ill with the disease.

Dr. Stefan de Hert, a former president of the European Society of Anaesthesiology, determined that obesity was one of the more common risk factors among patients admitted to the intensive care units in Italy, Metro UK reported.

“The mean age of all COVID-19 patients is 70 years, and one of the major risk factors for admission to intensive care is obesity,” he told the outlet.

Health officials have warned that obesity can weaken the body’s immune system and increase inflammation, which makes it harder for the body to fight off germs, the outlet report.

The extra weight also can put pressure on the lungs, increasing the risk of coronavirus complications, the report said.

The United Kingdom has also seen that obesity plays a role in severe cases of COVID-19 as new data revealed that nearly two-thirds of patients requiring critical care were overweight, Metro UK reported.

The National Health Service’s Intensive Care National Audit and Research Center released a study that found 127 of 196 cases in the ICU were overweight, according to the report.

Of the critically ill patients, there were 71 who had a BMI of 30 or higher, which is considered obese, the study said.

The new findings come as the virus has spread to more than 487,000 people across the world, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.