The impact of morbid obesity on the health outcomes of hospital inpatients: An observational study

Kellie Fusco, Campbell Thompson, Richard Woodman, Chris Horwood, Paul Hakendorf, Yogesh Sharma

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Morbid obesity poses a significant burden on the health-care system. This study determined whether morbid obesity leads to worse health-outcomes in hospitalised patients. This retrospective-study examined nutritional data of all inpatients aged 18–79 years, with a body-mass-index (BMI) ≥ 18.5 kg/m2 admitted over a period of 4 years at two major hospitals in Australia. Patients were divided into 3 groups for comparison: normal/overweight (BMI 18.5–29.9 kg/m2), obese (BMI 30–39.9 kg/m2) and morbidly-obese (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2). Outcome measures included length-of-hospital-stay (LOS), in-hospital mortality, and 30-day readmissions. Multilevel-mixed-effects regression was used to compare clinical outcomes between the groups after adjustment for potential confounders. Of 16,579 patients, 1004 (6.1%) were classified as morbidly-obese. Morbidly-obese patients had a significantly longer median (IQR) LOS than normal/overweight patients (5 (2, 12) vs. 5 (2, 11) days, p value = 0.012) and obese-patients (5 (2, 12) vs. 5 (2, 10) days, p value = 0.036). After adjusted-analysis, morbidly-obese patients had a higher incidence of a longer LOS than nor-mal/overweight patients (IRR 1.04; 95% CI 1.02–1.07; p value < 0.001) and obese-patients (IRR 1.13; 95% CI 1.11–1.16; p value < 0.001). Other clinical outcomes were similar between the different groups. Morbid obesity leads to a longer LOS in hospitalised patients but does not adversely affect other clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4382
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Health outcomes
  • In-hospital mortality
  • Length of hospital stay
  • Morbid obesity
  • Readmissions


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