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JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Obesity in the critically ill: a narrative review

Miet Schetz, Audrey De Jong, Adam M Deane, Wilfried Druml, Pleun Hemelaar, Paolo Pelosi, Peter Pickkers, Annika Reintam-Blaser, Jason Roberts, Yasser Sakr, Samir Jaber
Intensive Care Medicine 2019, 45 (6): 757-769
30888440
The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as the condition where excess or abnormal fat accumulation increases risks to health. The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide and is around 20% in ICU patients. Adipose tissue is highly metabolically active, and especially visceral adipose tissue has a deleterious adipocyte secretory profile resulting in insulin resistance and a chronic low-grade inflammatory and procoagulant state. Obesity is strongly linked with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea and hypoventilation syndrome, mood disorders and physical disabilities. In hospitalized and ICU patients and in patients with chronic illnesses, a J-shaped relationship between BMI and mortality has been demonstrated, with overweight and moderate obesity being protective compared with a normal BMI or more severe obesity (the still debated and incompletely understood "obesity paradox"). Despite this protective effect regarding mortality, in the setting of critical illness morbidity is adversely affected with increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular complications, requiring adapted management. Obesity is associated with increased risk of AKI and infection, may require adapted drug dosing and nutrition and is associated with diagnostic and logistic challenges. In addition, negative attitudes toward obese patients (the social stigma of obesity) affect both health care workers and patients.

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