Impact of obesity on hospitalizations and mortality, due to COVID-19: A systematic review

Obes Res Clin Pract. Sep-Oct 2020;14(5):398-403. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2020.07.005. Epub 2020 Jul 23.


The aim of the current review was to assess whether there was an association between obesity and higher levels of hospitalization, poor outcomes and mortality due to the disease of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Methodology: A systematic review of articles on the novel coronavirus, containing information on obesity and its association with COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. In the bibliographic research, four databases were used, with the terms ['COVID-19'] AND ['hospitalization'] AND ['obesity'] AND ['mortality']. Studies published from 12/01/2019 until 05/01/2020 were included. The research contains inclusive criteria targeting studies of humans adults infected by Sars-Cov-2, with or without comorbidities. This research was selected from publications in Spanish and English languages.

Results: 96 articles were identified, 15 being presented in two databases. Twenty articles were included, with a population total estimated from 1 to 7671 patients, with a prevalence of obesity ranging from 13.3% to 68.6%. The association of obesity and mortality has been observed in at least 4 studies, that 85.3% of the population was hospitalized. Among 19 of the 20 studies, more severe forms of the disease were observed and in 14 of them, higher rates of complications among obese people infected with the new coronavirus. Limitation differences in the definition of obesity was observed among publications, of which obesity was considered from a body mass index >25 kg/m².

Conclusions: In the current review, obesity and overweight were represented an unfavorable factor for infection of novel coronavirus, where the higher the BMI the worse the outcomes. This occurred by worsening the infection itself, as well as increasing the prevalence of hospitalizations, worst outcomes and greater lethality; especially when co-occurring with other chronic conditions and in the elderly as well. Given this evidence, greater attention is suggested to the obese and overweight population in the face of the current pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Hospitalization; Mortality; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Body Mass Index
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Obesity / virology
  • Overweight / mortality*
  • Overweight / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2