The obesity paradox: Analysis from the SMAtteo COvid-19 REgistry (SMACORE) cohort

Simona Biscarini, Marta Colaneri, Serena Ludovisi, Elena Seminari, Teresa C. Pieri, Pietro Valsecchi, Ilaria Gallazzi, Emanuele Giusti, Calogero Cammà, Valentina Zuccaro, Mario U. Mondelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Obesity has been suggested as a possible risk factor for a more severe course of COVID-19; however, conclusive evidence is lacking and few studies have investigated the role of BMI as a risk factor for admission to intensive care unit (ICU) and mortality. We retrospectively analyzed a COVID-19 cohort recruited during the first 40 days of the epidemic in Italy. We examined the association between obesity and 30-day mortality, admission to ICU, mortality and length of hospital stay in patients with COVID-19. Methods and results: Demographic, clinical and outcome data were retrospectively analyzed in 331 patients with COVID-19 admitted to hospital between 21 February and 31 March 2020. The predictive effect of obesity on mortality was assessed using a Cox proportional-hazard regression model, its effect on ICU admission and mortality in the ICU using logistic regressions, and its effect on length of hospital stay using a linear regression. Seventy-four of 331 patients had a BMI ≥30 kg/m2. Among obese patients, 21 (28.4%) required admission in ICU and 25 died (33.8%). After controlling for sex, age, comorbidities and clinical data, obesity was not significantly associated with mortality, mortality in ICU and length of hospital stay. The effect of obesity on ICU admission remained significant after controlling for sex, age, interstitial lung disease, heart disease and serum C-reactive protein. Conclusions: Obese patients with COVID-19 were more likely to be admitted to ICU than non-obese patients. However, there were no significant differences in mortality between the two groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1920
Number of pages1925
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • BMI
  • COVID-19
  • ICU
  • Obesity
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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