Fatter People, Longer Stays

Obesity linked to longer hospital stays for swine flu

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity contributes to many health complications. However, a new study by Spanish researchers suggests that obesity may not increase the risk of death among people with swine flu.

For this study, researchers compared death rates and use of hospital resources between two groups of patients with swine flu: one group of 150 obese patients and one group of 266 non-obese patients. They found that obese patients with swine flu required mechanical ventilation support for longer periods of time compared to non-obese patients. The findings also show that obese patients with swine flu had longer ICU and hospital stays than their non-obese counterparts.

However, the researchers did not find a relationship between obesity and risk of death from swine flu.

"Even though these researchers did not discover a link between obesity and ICU mortality, their findings should still be cause for concern," said Joseph V. Madia, MD. "The longer hospital stays of obese patients with swine flu is another item to add to a growing list of healthcare costs and health risks associated with obesity."

More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

Although this year's flu season has not been as severe as that of 2009, over 330 cases of swine flu have been detected. The CDC recommends that everyone get vaccinated, especially people who at greater risk of flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people over 65 years of age.

The study's results appear the February 2011 issue of the journal Chest.

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Review Date: 
February 1, 2011
Last Updated:
October 8, 2012