Influenza and Obesity

A new study finds that growth rates in obesity and diabetes, along with populations which are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, could turn even a mild outbreak of Influenza into an explosive global pandemic[1].
One of the authors of the study, virologist Dr Kirsty Short, explained the link between obesity and spread of dangerous diseases: "There has been an incredible rate of increase of diabetes and obesity even in my lifetime. This has significant implications on infectious diseases and the spread of infectious disease."
Dr. Short continued, "But because chronic diseases have risen in frequency in such a short period of time, we’re only starting to appreciate all of the consequences."

"As our population is ageing and chronic diseases are becoming so prevalent, that could turn even a mild pandemic into a chronic one," Dr. Short concluded.

Though modern medicine and vaccines are better prepared to mitigate the impact of a major outbreak than in 1918, issues like obesity and diabetes more broadly present in society will likely provide a significant hindrance to prevention and treatment, scientists fear, as these conditions could alter the body's immune response, leading to greater rates of hospitalization and even death.

Disturbingly, scientists have predicted that if something on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu were to occur today, it could result in a death toll as high as 147 million people worldwide, according to estimates.
Meanwhile, nearly all recent studies of American obesity suggest the trend of increasingly overweight Americans will only continue.

[1] Short et al: Back to the Future: Lessons Learned From the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Frontiers of Cellular and Infection Microbiology - 2018

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