High Prevalence of Obesity in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) Requiring Invasive Mechanical Ventilation

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Jul;28(7):1195-1199. doi: 10.1002/oby.22831. Epub 2020 Jun 10.


Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly spreading worldwide, notably in Europe and North America where obesity is highly prevalent. The relation between obesity and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has not been fully documented.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study analyzed the relationship between clinical characteristics, including BMI, and the requirement for invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in 124 consecutive patients admitted in intensive care for SARS-CoV-2 in a single French center.

Results: Obesity (BMI > 30) and severe obesity (BMI > 35) were present in 47.6% and 28.2% of cases, respectively. Overall, 85 patients (68.6%) required IMV. The proportion of patients who required IMV increased with BMI categories (P < 0.01, χ2 test for trend), and it was greatest in patients with BMI > 35 (85.7%). In multivariate logistic regression, the need for IMV was significantly associated with male sex (P < 0.05) and BMI (P < 0.05), independent of age, diabetes, and hypertension. The odds ratio for IMV in patients with BMI > 35 versus patients with BMI < 25 was 7.36 (1.63-33.14; P = 0.02).

Conclusions: The present study showed a high frequency of obesity among patients admitted in intensive care for SARS-CoV-2. Disease severity increased with BMI. Obesity is a risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 severity, requiring increased attention to preventive measures in susceptible individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Body Mass Index
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult