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2022 Dec 16

Clin Exp Med

Association of body mass index with COVID-19-related neurologic sequelae: a retrospective cohort study.


Elsayed S, Cabrera A, Ouellette D, Jones PM, Dhami R, Hanage W
Clin Exp Med. 2022 Dec 16.
PMID: 36525126.


We sought to explore the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and neurologic outcomes following acute COVID-19 infection. We conducted a retrospective electronic medical record-based cohort study enrolling adults with laboratory-confirmed acute COVID-19 infection who presented to 1 of 12 academic and community hospitals in Southwestern Ontario, Canada between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. Primary subjective (anosmia, dysgeusia, and/or headache) and objective (aseptic meningitis, ataxia, delirium, encephalopathy, encephalitis, intracranial hemorrhage, ischemic stroke, and/or seizure) composite neurologic outcomes were assessed, comparing obese and overweight individuals to those with underweight/normal BMI indices, adjusting for baseline characteristics. Secondary outcomes (severity of illness, length of hospital stay, SARS-CoV-2 viral load, mortality) were similarly analyzed. A total of 1437 enrolled individuals, of whom 307 (21%), 456 (32%), and 674 (47%) were underweight/normal, overweight, and obese, respectively. On multivariable analysis, there was no association between BMI category and the composite outcome for subjective (odds ratio [OR] 1.17, 95% CI 0.84-1.64, Bonferroni p = 1.00 for obese; OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.70-1.48; Bonferroni p = 1.00 for overweight) and objective (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.42-1.30, p = 0.29 for obese; OR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.45-1.43, p = 0.45 for overweight) neurologic manifestations. There was no association between BMI category and any secondary outcome measure and no evidence of effect modification by age or sex. This study demonstrates the absence of an association between BMI and neurologic manifestations following acute COVID-19 illness. Prospective studies using standardized data collection tools and direct measures of body fat are warranted to obtain more valid effect estimates.