H1N1 concerns for obese persons

Obesity and higher risk H1N1

A study done by Janice K. Louie and colleagues of the California Department of Public Health in Richmond, California have found that being obese, particularly extremely or morbidly obese boosts your risk of death from viruses and viral diseases like H1n1 or swine flu infection.

This study will be published in the February 1, 2011 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Results showed that about 50% of Californians aged 20 or older who died from H1N1 or were hospitalized for the infection in 2009 were obese.

What is the definition of obese? A person with his body mass index of greater than 30 or 40 kilos per meter squared is by definition obese or extremely obese respectively.

The study involved 534 adult cases of 2009 pandemic influenza A or H1N1 infection and observed that 43% of patients were aged 50 years or older and 72% had influenza-related high risk conditions recognized by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice.

The study revealed that 51% of H1N1 patients had BMI greater than 30. Among those who died, 61% had BMI greater than 30 and 30% had BMI greater than 40 or were extremely obese.

Statistics showed that being obese (BMI greater than 30) or extremely obese (BMI greater than 45) was correlated with 200 or 300% increased risk of death from H1N1 virus, respectively.

More research is needed to help understand why extremely obese people are more likely to die from the 2009 H1N1 influenza infection.

It has been suggested that the fact that extremely obese people are at higher risk of death from H1N1 infection may have something to do with their low vitamin D status.

Vitamin D has been known to be involved in innate immunity against viruses and viral diseases like swine flu or H1N1.

It is certainly something to consider. Exercise for your continued good health. Try to keep your vitamin levels up, especially during the winter. It can't hurt and it looks like it might help!