A new study carried out in Managua, Nicaragua, revealed that obese people, in comparison to normal-weight individuals, can spread the flu virus for considerably longer, and they also feel the influenza virus’ symptoms acuter. The results of this research are of great importance nowadays, as the number of obese people has tripled since 1975, as reported by the WHO.
About nine years ago, during the 2009 flu pandemic, an epidemiologist from the University of Michigan, Aubree Gordon, make a connection between obesity and the influenza severity and transmission. According to Gordon, “it became quite clear that obese individuals were at higher risk for severe influenza. And more recently, some studies have shown that obese individuals don’t respond as well to the influenza vaccine.”
In this new research, Gordon cooperated with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health to follow about 2,000 people in nearly 320 households starting with 2015 up until now.
Obese people can spread the flu virus for much longer, and risk for more severe influenza
Previous studies already established a connection between obesity and a weakened immune system, due to the chronic inflammation the obesity causes in the body.
In this recent study, however, Gordon and his colleagues observed that indeed obese people transmit the flu virus more simply because influenza affects them more in comparison with normal-weight individuals.
“In people who were either asymptomatic, having no symptoms, or just had one minor symptom, obese people still shed for significantly longer than non-obese adults. In fact, they shed viral DNA for about twice as long,” explained Aubree Gordon.
According to the epidemiologist, that is just another strong evidence that obese individuals have a weakened immune system causing their body to address the virus poorly, leading to more severe influenza cases.
On the other hand, as Aubree Gordon said, obesity itself is a “pandemic” and slowly but steadily is becoming a worldwide health concern.