Flu shot not as effective in people who are overweight, obese
The flu vaccine might not work as well if you're on the heavier side.
WASHINGTON — Scientists have found that the flu vaccine is less effective for people with excess weight.
A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that vaccinated obese adults have twice the risk of flu or flu-like illnesses compared to vaccinated healthy-weight adults.
This is a pretty huge problem, considering two-thirds of the adult population in the U.S. has issues with excess weight.
NPR reports that during the 2009 flu outbreak, health experts noticed the infection was worse in individuals who were significantly overweight.
The virus grows to higher concentrations and spreads deeper in the lungs.
Heavier individuals were also more likely to spread the disease.
A University of Maryland study found that more of the virus came out of the exhaled breath of those who were overweight or obese.
According to Chapel Hill nutrition professor Melinda Beck, the metabolic shift in people's bodies caused by gaining excess weight affects immune system cells.
So although obese people may still make an antibody response, their T-cells aren't functioning, so they can still be infected with the flu despite being vaccinated.
Apart from the obese and overweight, elderly people also face the same problem.
Because of this, scientists are now working to develop a next-generation flu shot that can address these vulnerabilities, though it has years to go before it's ready.
In the meantime, they say people should still continue to get vaccinated, regardless of size or body weight.
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