Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients With Obesity Are Significantly More Likely to Need ICU Care (Medicine)

Study did not find higher risk of death in people with obesity, COVID-19

People with obesity who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have a significantly higher rate of ICU admissions and longer duration of ICU stay compared to people with a normal body mass index (BMI), according to a study presented virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

“The association between obesity and a more severe clinical course of COVID-19 highlights the vulnerability of this population during the current pandemic and the need for public health efforts to prevent and treat obesity, in the current pandemic and beyond,” said lead researcher Yu Mi Kang, M.D., Ph.D., of Yale New Haven Health in New Haven, Conn.

More than 40% of Americans live with obesity, one of the significant risk factors for COVID-19. Kang and colleagues wanted to determine and describe the impact of obesity on the clinical course of COVID-19, compared with individuals who do not have obesity.

The researchers analyzed data from 3,268 adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at five hospitals within the Yale New Haven Health System between March and November 2020.

Among hospitalized patients, 43% had obesity, 15.8% died, and 24.2% required ICU-level care. Patients with obesity were 26% more likely to need ICU care overall than patients who did not have obesity. COVID-19 patients with higher body-mass index (BMI) measurements were even more likely to require ICU care. Individuals with severe obesity, or a BMI of 40 or higher, were twice as likely to need ICU care compared with patients with a normal BMI. The study did not find a higher risk of death in people with obesity compared to those with normal BMI.

“Our work underscores the impact of obesity on the course of COVID-19 and emphasizes the need to ensure that obesity is given appropriate consideration for risk stratification, vaccination protocols and in-hospital COVID-19 management,” Kang said.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.


Provided by Endocrine Society

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