Purpose of review
During critical illness, several neuroendocrine, inflammatory, immune, adipokine, and gastrointestinal tract hormone pathways are activated; some of which are more intensified among obese compared with nonobese patients. Nutrition support may mitigate some of these effects. Nutrition priorities in obese critically ill patients include screening for nutritional risk, estimation of energy and protein requirement, and provision of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Estimation of energy requirement in obese critically ill patients is challenging because of variations in body composition among obese patients and absence of reliable predictive equations for energy expenditure. Whereas hypocaloric nutrition with high protein has been advocated in obese critically ill patients, supporting data are scarce. Recent studies did not show differences in outcomes between hypocaloric and eucaloric nutrition, except for better glycemic control. Sarcopenia is common among obese patients, and the provision of increased protein intake has been suggested to mitigate catabolic changes especially after the acute phase of critical illness. However, high-quality data on high protein intake in these patients are lacking. Micronutrient deficiencies among obese critically ill patients are common but the role of their routine supplementation requires further study.
An individualized approach for nutritional support may be needed for obese critically ill patients but high-quality evidence is lacking. Future studies should focus on nutrition priorities in this population, with efficient and adequately powered studies.