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Obesity protects against death in severe bacterial infection

Obesity has always been looked at as a bad ailment one could have. But obesity is much more than hogging on food. It’s a broad range of diseases that includes many physiological, psychological and medical aspects. While obesity can be harmful and affects a person’s way of living and his/her mental health, a new finding suggests that obesity protects against death that occurs from severe bacterial infection. This study emphasizes that a higher BMI can be linked to higher survival rates in patients hospitalized for severe bacterial infections.

The study was conducted by scientists from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and Skaraborg Hospital in Skovde, and it was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. The information was gathered before the COVID-19 epidemic. The population-based study included observations of all 2,196 persons receiving care at Skaraborg Hospital in Skovde for suspected serious bacterial illness over a nine-month period. The patients in this study cohort were monitored over time, both during and after their hospital stay. The findings demonstrate that a higher body mass index (BMI) was linked to a higher risk of survival in both the short and long term, at 28 days and one year after hospitalization, respectively. The disparities in survival rates were plain to see. Within a year, 26% of the normal-weight group had died. In groups with a higher BMI, the percentages were 9-17 percent. Similar results have previously been found in sporadic studies of small patient groups. The new findings support and validate the “obesity survival paradox,” which states that being overweight or obese protects against serious bacterial infections.

The pandemic has drawn attention to vulnerable patient groups, with overweight patients being particularly heavily hit. Perhaps COVID-19 and overweight patients’ experience and handling of treatment for patients with severe bacterial infections can be used to enhance the prognosis. What we don’t know is whether being overweight or  can help a patient with a bacterial illness or whether obesity protects against death, or if it’s linked to immune system functions and how they’re regulated. More research is needed into how obesity impacts the immune system.

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