Dr. Hyunju Kim Ph.D. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 

Plant and Fish Based Diets May Reduce Risk of COVID-19 Infection

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Hyunju Kim Ph.D. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 

Dr. Hyunju Kim

Dr. Hyunju Kim Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In the past few months, we have learnt that individuals with comorbidities (obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension) are at higher risk of Covid-19. The etiology of these conditions is largely driven by poor nutrition and unfavorable lifestyle choices, yet no study examined whether dietary habits play a role in Covid-19 infection, severity of symptoms, and duration of illness.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In healthcare workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA), we found that individuals who reported following “plant-based diets” and “plant-based diets or pescatarian diets” had 73%, and 59% lower odds of moderate-to-severe Covid-19 severity, respectively. Compared to participants who reported following plant-based diets, those who reported following “low carbohydrate, high protein diets” had greater odds of moderate-to-severe Covid-19.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Healthy dietary patterns such as plant-based diets or pescatarian diets (higher in vegetables, legumes, and nuts; lower in poultry and red and processed meats) may be considered for protection against severe Covid-19.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Study participants reported whether they followed a specific diet over the past year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we had data on participant’s food intake, we did not have detailed information on their macro- or micronutrient intake. Future studies with objective data (biomarkers such as plasma micronutrient levels) and more detailed macronutrient and micronutrient intake are warranted.

We do not have any disclosures. Thank you for your interest in our research.


“Plant-based diets, pescatarian diets and COVID-19 severity: a population-based case-control study in six countries” 7 June 2021, BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.
DOI: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000272



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Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD