Association of bioelectric impedance analysis body composition and disease severity in COVID-19 hospital ward and ICU patients: The BIAC-19 study

Hanneke Pierre Franciscus Xaverius Moonen, Florianne Johanna Louise van Zanten, Luuk Driessen, Vivienne de Smet, Rianne Slingerland-Boot, Marco Mensink, Arthur Raymond Hubert van Zanten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic is unprecedented in its impact. It is essential to shed light on patient characteristics that predispose to a more severe disease course. Obesity, defined as a BMI>30 kg/m2, is suggested to be one of these characteristics. However, BMI does not differentiate between fat mass and lean body mass, or the distribution of fat tissue. The aim of the present study was to assess the body composition of COVID-19 patients admitted to the ward or the ICU and identify any associations with severity of disease. Methods: We performed an observational cross-sectional cohort study. Bioelectric impedance analysis was conducted amongst all confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted to the ward or ICU of our hospital in the Netherlands, between April 10 and 17, 2020. Body water measurements and derived values were recalculated to dry weight, using a standard ratio of extracellular water to total body water of 0.38. Data were compared between the ward and ICU patients, and regression models were used to assess the associations between baseline characteristics, body composition, and several indicators of disease severity, including a composite score composed of mortality, morbidity, and ICU admission. Results: Fifty-four patients were included, of which 30 in the ward and 24 in the ICU. The mean age was 67 years (95%-CI 64–71), and 34 (63%) were male. Mean BMI was 29.7 (95%-CI 28.2–31.1) kg/m2 and did not differ between groups. Body composition values were not independently associated with disease severity. In multiple logistic regression analyses, a low phase angle was associated with COVID-19 severity in the composite score (OR 0.299, p = 0.046). Conclusion: We found no significant associations between body composition, including fat mass, visceral fat area, and fat-free mass, and disease severity in our population of generally overweight COVID-19 patients. A lower phase angle did increase the odds of severe COVID-19. We believe that factors other than body composition play a more critical role in the development of severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2328-2336
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Early online date21 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Body composition
  • COVID-19
  • Fat mass
  • Fat-free mass
  • Lean body mass
  • SARS-CoV-2


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