The risk of greater COVID-19 severity and death is higher in people with any obese body mass index (BMI), according to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
Matteo Rottoli, MD, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy, and colleagues analysed the outcomes of 482 patients with COVID-19 hospitalised between March 1 and April 20, 2020. Of the 482 patients included in the study, 202 (41.9%) had a BMI < 25 kg/m2, 176 (36.5%) had a BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2, 84 (17.4%) had a BMI between 30 and 34.9 kg/m2, and 20 (4.1%) had a BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2.
The study findings showed that at logistic regression analysis, the risk of respiratory failure and ICU admission was significantly higher both in patients with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 kg/m2 (OR: 2.32; 95% CI: 1.31-4.09, p=0.004, and OR: 4.96; 95% CI: 2.53-9.74, p<0.001, respectively) and in patients with a BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2 (OR: 3.24; 95% CI: 1.21-8.68, p=0.019, and OR: 6.58; 95% CI: 2.31-18.7, p<0.001, respectively). Meanwhile, the risk of death was significantly higher among patients with a BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2 (OR: 12.1; 95% CI: 3.25-45.1, p<0.001).
“In a population of patients hospitalised for COVID-19, a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 was associated with a significantly higher risk of respiratory failure, admission to the ICU and death. The current CDC BMI cutoff of 40 kg/m2 should be reassessed in order to properly identify patients at higher risk, and avoid an underestimation of the potential impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a large proportion of the general population,” the authors concluded.
“Our hypothesis is that SARS-CoV-2 infection outcomes depend on the metabolic profile of patients and that obesity, interlaced with diabetes and metabolic syndrome are involved too,” said Dr Rottoli.
Further, Dr Rottoli commented, “our study showed that any grade of obesity is associated with severe COVID-19 illness and suggests that people with mild obesity should also be identified as a population at risk.”