Study links obesity and influenza complications

OBESITY has been linked for the first time to a higher rate of hospitalisation for seasonal influenza, prompting calls for patients with high BMI to be vaccinated.

Canadian researchers found that patients with a BMI >30 kg/m² were 45% more likely to be hospitalised for respiratory illness – and severely obese patients (>35 BMI kg/m²) were twice as likely – compared to people in the normal weight range.

The figures came from a study covering 12 influenza seasons, from 1996–2008, and 82,500 adults aged up to 64 years who responded to nationally representative population health surveys.

The researchers found that obese individuals were at increased risk of hospitalisation from any cause during influenza seasons, but the association was greater for respiratory conditions than for other conditions.

“The association between severe obesity and respiratory hospitalisations was present both for those without