Malnutrition in patients with COVID-19: assessment and consequences

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2021 Nov 1;24(6):543-554. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000783.


Purpose of review: COVID-19 disease often presents with malnutrition and nutrition impact symptoms, such as reduced appetite, nausea and loss of taste. This review summarizes the most up-to-date research on nutritional assessment in relation to mortality and morbidity risk in patients with COVID-19.

Recent findings: Numerous studies have been published on malnutrition, muscle wasting, obesity, and nutrition impact symptoms associated with COVID-19, mostly observational and in hospitalized patients. These studies have shown a high prevalence of symptoms (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dysphagia, fatigue, and loss of smell and taste), malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity in patients with COVID-19, all of which were associated with increased mortality and morbidity risks.

Summary: Early screening and assessment of malnutrition, muscle wasting, obesity, nutrition impact symptoms and micronutrient status in patients with COVID-19, followed by pro-active nutrition support is warranted, and expected to contribute to improved recovery. There is limited research on nutritional status or nutrition impact symptoms in patients living at home or in residential care. RCTs studying the effects of nutrition intervention on clinical outcomes are lacking. Future research should focus on these evidence gaps.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / complications