Is higher BMI a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease?

  • Ong SWX & al.
  • Clin Infect Dis
  • 8 May 2020

  • curated by Liz Scherer
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Higher BMI is linked to increased severity of COVID-19 disease among patients

Why this matters

  • A BMI cutoff of ≥25 might be important for risk stratification, especially in younger patients of Asian ancestry.

Key results

  • 91 patients with RT-PCR-confirmed COVID-19, grouped by BMI:
    • 25-30: 31.9% (29). 
    • 31-35: 7.7% (7). 
    • >35: 4.4% (4).
  • With analysis including all ages, patients with BMI ≥25 vs
  • Among a subgroup of patients age
    • Pneumonia on chest radiograph: P=.017. 
    • Needing low-flow supplemental oxygen: OR, 6.32 (95% CI, 1.23-32.34).
    • Needing mechanical ventilation: OR, 1.16 (95% CI, 1.00-1.34).
  • Patients with BMI ≥25 also had significantly higher serum lactate dehydrogenase levels (P=.011), which have been associated with COVID-19 disease severity.

Study design

  • Retrospective cohort study evaluating association between BMI and COVID-19 disease severity among patients admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Singapore.
  • Outcomes: hypoxia requiring supplemental oxygen, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, mortality.
  • Funding: NMRC COVID-19 Research Fund.

Limitations

  • Retrospective.
  • No control.
  • Limited generalizability.