HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania continues to struggle with vaccine hesitancy and faces a COVID-19 vaccine surplus, but the demand for answers has never been higher.

It’s been over 14 months since the U.S. announced its first confirmed COVID-19 related death and since then, major questions have remained unanswered. But as conditions edge ever closer towards a return to ‘normalcy,’ new light is being shed.

A study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed a connection between body mass index (BMI) and COVID-19 severity.

The study found that out of approximately 150,000 adults who received a COVID-19 diagnosis between March and December 2020, a combined 78% of those overweight and obese were hospitalized.

Researchers described the relationship as a ‘J’ shape in which the higher the BMI, the more likely for hospitalization, the need for mechanical ventilation and death, particularly among adults aged <65 years.

Obesity is already a common metabolic disease that affects 42.4% of U.S. adults and the CDC has recognized it as a risk factor for severe COVID-19. Pennsylvanians may remember Phase 1A included those who are overweight or obese.

According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health from 2017 through 2019, on average, approximately 68% of people living in the Midstate are considered overweight and 32% are obese.

These numbers compare marginally better than national averages, but the issue remains eye-opening. To best protect yourself, the best pursuit may be through means of healthy living.