Clin Nutr. 2021 May 11:S0261-5614(21)00248-X. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.05.006. Online ahead of print.
The COVID-19 pandemics has created unprecedented challenges and threats to patients and healthcare systems worldwide. Acute respiratory complications that require intensive care unit (ICU) management are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Among other important risk factors for severe COVID-19 outcomes, obesity has emerged along with undernutrition-malnutrition as a strong predictor of disease risk and severity. Obesity-related excessive body fat may lead to respiratory, metabolic and immune derangements potentially favoring the onset of COVID-19 complications. In addition, patients with obesity may be at risk for loss of skeletal muscle mass, reflecting a state of hidden malnutrition with a strong negative health impact in all clinical settings. Also importantly, obesity is commonly associated with micronutrient deficiencies that directly influence immune function and infection risk. Finally, the pandemic-related lockdown, deleterious lifestyle changes and other numerous psychosocial consequences may worsen eating behaviors, sedentarity, body weight regulation, ultimately leading to further increments of obesity-associated metabolic complications with loss of skeletal muscle mass and higher non-communicable disease risk. Therefore, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies should be routinely included in the management of COVID-19 patients in the presence of obesity; lockdown-induced health risks should also be specifically monitored and prevented in this population. In the current document, the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) aims at providing clinical practice guidance for nutritional management of COVID-19 patients with obesity in various clinical settings.