While obesity is commonly associated with increased morbidity and mortality, in patients with chronic diseases, it has have been associated with a better prognosis, a phenomenon known as the 'obesity paradox'.
We investigated the relationship between mortality, length of hospital stay (LOHS), and body mass index (BMI) in patients hospitalized to general surgical wards.
We extracted data of patients admitted to the hospital between January 2011 and December 2017. BMI was classified according to the following categories: underweight (< 18.5), normal weight (18.5–24.9), overweight (25–29.9), obesity (30–34.9) and severe obesity (≥ 35). Main outcomes were mortality at 30-day mortality and at the end-of-follow-up mortality), as well as LOHS.
A total of 27,639 patients (mean age 55 ± 20 years; 48% males; 19% had diabetes) were included in the study. Median LOHS was longer in patients with diabetes vs. those without diabetes (4.0 vs 3.0 days, respectively), with longest LOHS among underweight patients. A 30-day mortality was 2% of those without (371/22,297) and 3% of those with diabetes (173/5,342). In patients with diabetes, 30-day mortality risk showed a step-wise decrease with increased BMI: 10% for underweight, 6% for normal weight, 3% for overweight, 2% for obese and only 1% for severely obese patients. In patients without diabetes, 30-day mortality was found to be 6% for underweight, 3% for normal weight and 1% across the overweight and obese categories. Mortality rate at the end-of-follow-up was 9% of patients without diabetes and 18% of those with diabetes (adjusted OR = 1.3, 95% CI, 1.2–1.5). In patients with diabetes, mortality risk showed an inverse association with respect to BMI: 52% for underweight, 29% for normal weight, 17% for overweight, 14% for obesity and 7% for severely obese patients, with similar trend in patients without diabetes.
The results support the ‘obesity paradox’ in the general surgical patients as those with and without diabetes admitted to surgical wards, BMI had an inverse association with short- and long-term mortality.
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Dotan, I., Shochat, T., Shimon, I. et al. The Association Between BMI and Mortality in Surgical Patients. World J Surg (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00268-021-05961-4