Getting sick is no fun, but what does your weight have to do with the flu? Research has linked weight with flu severity and transmission…

Did you know that obese people have a greater risk for severe complications from flu, including hospitalisation and even death?

Now research has found that being overweight may not only make one feel worse, it may make it harder to recover and have an impact on flu transmission.

A new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases found that obese adults infected with flu shed the virus for a longer time than adults who are not obese. This potentially increases the opportunity for the infection to spread to others.

“This is the first real evidence that obesity might impact more than just disease severity,” says senior study author Aubree Gordon, MPH, PhD, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “It might directly impact transmission as well.”

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Related: The impact of flu on the brain

Obese adults took 104 percent longer to shed influenza A virus

Analysing data collected from approximately 1 800 people in 320 households, researchers investigated the effect of obesity on the duration of viral shedding over three influenza seasons from 2015 to 2017.

Obese adults with flu symptoms and laboratory-confirmed influenza shed influenza A virus for 42 percent longer than adults with flu who were not obese.

Among obese individuals infected with flu who were only mildly ill or had no symptoms, the difference was even greater: These obese adults shed influenza A virus for 104 percent longer than non-obese adults with flu.

The duration of viral shedding was determined by tests of nose and throat samples, which detected the presence of influenza virus RNA but did not indicate whether the viruses were infectious.

Obesity alters the immune system

Obesity can alter the body’s immune response and lead to chronic inflammation, which increases with age, in addition to making breathing more difficult and increasing the need for oxygen.

These factors may help explain how obesity could affect influenza risk, severity, and transmission potential.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.