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Is BMI a Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19 Outcomes? New Research Says “No”


New research presented at ObesityWeek®2020 showed no statistical difference in severe COVID-19 outcomes between normal and obese patients.

An abstract presented at the virtual ObesityWeek®2020 Interactive meeting found no statistical difference in length of hospital stay, likelihood of mechanical ventilation, and overall mortality rate between normal and obese COVID-19 patients.

Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for severe COVID-19, but no study to date has compared the outcome of COVID-19 patients by body mass index (BMI) group. Researchers, led by Hong Li, MD, from New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, reviewed chart data from 203 patients admitted to 1 community base institution in New York City between March 27 and March 31, 2020.

Exclusion criteria included age <18 years, pregnant patients, patients without any weight data, and patients with BMI <18.5 kg/m2. Primary outcomes included length of hospital stay, percentage mechanically ventilated, and overall mortality rate.

Adults were classified according to BMI as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as normal (BMI, 18.5 to <25 kg/m2; n=41), overweight (BMI, 25 to <30 kg/m2; n=82), and obese (BMI, ≥30 kg/m2; n=80).



Presented with Fever (p=0.520)

Normal: 29.3%
Overweight: 23.2%
Obese: 20%

Presented with Oxygen Saturation <92% (p=0.484)

Normal: 34.1%
Overweight: 45.1%
Obese: 43.8%

Mechanically Ventilated (p=0.502)

Normal: 24.4%
Overweight: 34.1%
Obese: 33.8%

Mortality Rate (p=0.927)

Normal: 43.9%
Overweight: 40.2%
Obese: 41.3%

“There is no statistically difference in length of hospital stay, likelihood of mechanical ventilation and overall mortality rate between normal vs. overweight vs. obese COVID-19 patients,” concluded authors.

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