BACKGROUND: Obesity affects the course of critical illnesses. We aimed to estimate the association of obesity with the severity and mortality in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. DATA SOURCES: A systematic search was conducted from the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic through to 13 October 2021, on databases including Medline (PubMed), Embase, Science Web, and Cochrane Central Controlled Trials Registry. Preprint servers such as BioRxiv, MedRxiv, ChemRxiv, and SSRN were also scanned. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Full-length articles focusing on the association of obesity and outcome in COVID-19 patients were included. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines were used for study selection and data extraction. Our Population of interest were COVID-19 positive patients, obesity is our Intervention/Exposure point, Comparators are Non-obese vs obese patients The chief outcome of the study was the severity of the confirmed COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients in terms of admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) or the requirement of invasive mechanical ventilation/intubation with obesity. All-cause mortality in COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients with obesity was the secondary outcome of the study. RESULTS: In total, 3,140,413 patients from 167 studies were included in the study. Obesity was associated with an increased risk of severe disease (RR=1.52, 95% CI 1.41-1.63, p<0.001, I(2) = 97%). Similarly, high mortality was observed in obese patients (RR=1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.16, p=0.006, I(2) = 97%). In multivariate meta-regression on severity, the covariate of the female gender, pulmonary disease, diabetes, older age, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension was found to be significant and explained R(2) = 40% of the between-study heterogeneity for severity. The aforementioned covariates were found to be significant for mortality as well, and these covariates collectively explained R(2) = 50% of the between-study variability for mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that obesity is significantly associated with increased severity and higher mortality among COVID-19 patients. Therefore, the inclusion of obesity or its surrogate body mass index in prognostic scores and improvement of guidelines for patient care management is recommended.

  • Adults
  • Older adults
  • Risk factor
  • COVID-19