Obesity is Associated with Worse Outcomes in COVID-19: Analysis of Early Data from New York City

Kaveh Hajifathalian, Sonal Kumar, Carolyn Newberry, Shawn Shah, Brett Fortune, Tibor Krisko, Shiara Ortiz-Pujols, Xi Kathy Zhou, Andrew J. Dannenberg, Rekha Kumar, Reem Z. Sharaiha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Objective: The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has triggered a rapidly expanding global pandemic in which patients exhibit a wide spectrum of disease severity. Given the high prevalence of obesity in the United States, we hypothesized that the presence of obesity may play a role in the clinical course of patients with COVID-19. Methods: This is a retrospective review of adult patients admitted with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Demographics, clinical characteristics, laboratory data, and clinical outcomes were abstracted. BMI (kilograms per meter squared) was analyzed with regard to a composite outcome of intensive care unit (ICU) admission or death and intubation rate. Results: About 770 patients were included (61% male, mean age 63.5 years). Patients with obesity were more likely to present with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Obesity was also associated with a significantly higher rate of ICU admission or death (RR = 1.58, P = 0.002) even after adjusting for age, race, and troponin level. Conclusions: Patients with obesity had an increased risk for critical illness leading to ICU admission or death compared with normal weight individuals. This study confirms that obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19 disease severity, significantly impacting disease presentation and critical care requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1606-1612
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Coronavirus Infections/complications
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City/epidemiology
  • Obesity/complications
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral/complications
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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