The flu vaccine may be insufficient for obese people, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina have proven that obesity is associated with an impaired immune response to the influenza vaccination.
Dr Melinda Beck, senior author of the study, stated: "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 [are] more susceptible to influenza illness."
The study discovered that the influenza vaccine antibody levels decline significantly in obese people compared to those of a healthy weight.
Moreover, responses to CD8=T cells - a white blood cell that plays a key role in the body's immune system - are defective in heavier people.
Obesity has long been linked to vulnerability to complaints such as heart disease and cancer.
Studies have shown that diet induced obesity impairs innate and adaptive immune responses.
When given a vaccine to treat cancer, mice in an animal study that were obese had far lower immune responses than those of an average weight.
The same has been proved true in humans.
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