It’s time to get your flu shot! But it may not be as effective if you’re overweight. A new study provides evidence explaining a phenomenon that was noticed for the first time during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak: that obesity is associated with an impaired immune response to the influenza vaccination in humans.

Researcher Melinda Beck says, “These results suggest that overweight and obese people would be more likely than healthy weight people to experience flu illness following exposure to the flu virus. "Previous studies have indicated the possibility that obesity might impair the human body’s ability to fight flu viruses. These new findings seem to give us a reason why obese people were more susceptible to influenza illness during the H1N1 pandemic compared to healthy weight people." The study reports for the first time that influenza vaccine antibody levels decline significantly in obese people compared to healthy weight individuals.

What’s more, responses to a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the body’s immune system are defective in heavier people, meaning that fatter people are sicker people–which is a good reason to lose weight!

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