Obese folks more susceptible to catching the flu

I got my flu shot last week with flu season around the corner. I recently read an interesting study called “Obesity is associated with impaired immune response to influenza vaccination in humans”, published in the International Journal of Obesity. A United Press International article neatly summarizes the main points of the study, which concludes that obese people are at a higher risk of catching the flu after being exposed to the flu virus; obese individuals do not react as effectively as healthy individuals of average weight. This is because

Influenza vaccine antibody levels decline significantly in obese people compared to healthy weight individuals and a type of white blood cell are defective in heavier people.

Although obese, overweight and healthy weight individuals all developed antibodies to flu viruses within the first month after vaccination, the antibody levels in the blood declined more rapidly in obese and overweight individuals, the study said.

This may be why, with the previous H1N1 flu strain, obese people tended to do worse.  Early vaccination may help prevent this.

Losing weight and keeping healthy certainly makes you less vulnerable to certain diseases. Now that we know it influences how you react to the flu shot, exercising and eating healthy are important — with the flu season just around the corner…

Go get your flu shot. Folks over 65 should also get a pneumonia shot. Please ask your doctor how best you can protect yourself.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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