OBJECTIVES: A high body mass index (BMI) is associated with an unfavorable disease course in COVID-19, but not among those who require admission to the ICU. This has not been examined across different age groups. We examined whether age modifies the association between BMI and mortality among critically ill COVID-19 patients. DESIGN: An observational cohort study. SETTING: A nationwide registry analysis of critically ill patients with COVID-19 registered in the National Intensive Care Evaluation registry. PATIENTS: We included 15,701 critically ill patients with COVID-19 (10,768 males [68.6%] with median [interquartile range] age 64 yr [55-71 yr]), of whom 1,402 (8.9%) patients were less than 45 years. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: In the total sample and after adjustment for age, gender, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IV, mechanical ventilation, and use of vasoactive drugs, we found that a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2does not affect hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] = 0.98; 95% CI, 0.90-1.06; p = 0.62). For patients less than 45 years old, but not for those greater than or equal to 45 years old, a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2was associated with a lower hospital mortality (ORadj= 0.59; 95% CI, 0.36-0.96; p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: A higher BMI may be favorably associated with a lower mortality among those less than 45 years old. This is in line with the so-called "obesity paradox" that was established for other groups of critically ill patients in broad age ranges. Further research is needed to understand this favorable association in young critically ill patients with COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • age groups
  • critical illness
  • obesity
  • prognosis

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