Visceral adiposity, subcutaneous adiposity, and severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): Systematic review and meta-analysis

Raymond Pranata, Michael Anthonius Lim, Ian Huang, Emir Yonas, Joshua Henrina, Rachel Vania, Antonia Anna Lukito, Sally Aman Nasution, Idrus Alwi, Bambang Budi Siswanto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Body mass index (BMI) has previously been shown to increase mortality and disease severity in patients with COVID-19, but the pooled effect estimate was heterogeneous. Although BMI is widely used as an indicator, it cannot distinguish visceral from subcutaneous fat. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to investigate the association between visceral adiposity, subcutaneous fat, and severe COVID-19. Methods: We performed a systematic literature search using the databases: PubMed, Embase, and EuropePMC. Data on visceral fat area (VTA), subcutaneous fat area (SFA), and total fat area (TFA) were collected. The outcome of interest was severe COVID-19. We used a REML random-effects model to pool the mean differences and odds ratio (OR). Results: There were 5 studies comprising of 539 patients. Patients with severe COVID-19 have a higher VTA (mean difference 41.7 cm2 [27.0, 56.4], p < 0.001; I2: 0%) and TFA (mean difference 64.6 cm2 [26.2, 103.1], p = 0.001; I2: 0%). There was no significant difference in terms of SFA between patients with severe and non-severe COVID-19 (mean difference 9.3 cm2 [-4.9, 23.4], p = 0.199; I2: 1.2%). Pooled ORs showed that VTA was associated with severe COVID-19 (OR 1.9 [1.1, 2.2], p = 0.002; I2: 49.3%). Conclusion: Visceral adiposity was associated with increased COVID-19 severity, while subcutaneous adiposity was not. Prospero id: CRD42020215876.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Adiposity
  • Coronavirus
  • Obesity
  • Visceral fat
  • Visceral fat area


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