According to the article” Obesity puts swine flu sufferers at greater risk, study suggests” about 25% of people in California were hospitalized from H1N1 complications and these people were morbidly obese. The Centers for Disease Control states that people with a body mass index of 30 is considered obese and those whose body mass index is 40 or more are morbidly obese (presentation on obesity, Oct. 21, 2009). For example, a person who is 4 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds is considered obese and a person who is 5 feet tall and weights 210 pounds is considered morbidly obese. Just as obesity puts people at risk for other diseases such as some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, etc, obese people apparently have an increased risk from dying from complications of the H1N1 virus. According to the article, obese people have compressed lungs due to a larger abdomen pressing up on the lungs and have a heavier chest wall which impedes efficient breathing. Compressed lungs and a heavier chest makes it difficult for blood and oxygen to travel through the lungs and thus help fight off infection. Compromised immune systems are typical of those who are obese. Dr. David Herber of UCLA believes that obese people have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies which diminishes the body’s ability to fight diseases thus a vulnerability to H1N1.
According to the documentary “Super Size Me”, obesity is an epidemic and numbers of the obese are increasing. So, it’s especially important for obese people not only to try to reduce their obesity but to get the H1N1 immunization to help prevent them from getting complications from the H1N1 flu virus.
In the article “Do Extra Pounds Always Equal Extra Risk?” it is mentioned that according to researchers “plenty of fat people are healthy, and plenty of thin people are unhealthy.” This is in reference to the studies that showed that being overweight did not result necessarily in having greater risk factors such as higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and higher blood glucose and insulin resistance. It was pointed out that fatter people may maintain reasonable risk factors by eating properly and exercising. This means eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fatty foods that are loaded with fat and sugar (Weitz, p. 32)) and getting 30 or more minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. But, it was also emphatically stated that despite the results of the studies showing that there are plenty of “healthy” individuals who are overweight, “It is dangerous to go down the path says it’s OK to be obese” (Janet Pregler, director of the Iris Cantor UCLA Women’s Health Center). The article concludes by stating that obesity is very difficult to treat and may never be fully resolved. It is a helpful goal to manage risk factors other than obesity to improve one’s chances to be medically healthy. According to the film “Super Size Me” the fast food restaurant McDonald’s is located in so many locations including hospitals and school campuses, which no doubt contributes to the obesity epidemic and can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, some cancers such as pancreatic and bowel cancer. On the contrary to the film that indicates that obesity is a health problem, the article suggests that obesity is not necessarily a problem if people control their eating habits once they start to become overweight. According to Blair and Church, some researchers have suggested that the issue is not obesity by itself, but a lack of physical activity and maintenance of physical fitness (Weitz, p. 32). People should focus more on exercise and fitness rather than simply dieting because dietary habits are difficult to manage due to the pervasive nature of advertising and prevalence of fast food outlets.
1. Kaiser Permanente Body Mass Index Calculator for adults. Last Reviewed: January 2006.
2. Jameson, Marnell. 2009. “Do extra pounds always equal extra risk?” Los Angeles Times, October 12. Retrieved October 24, 2009 http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-fat-health12-2009oct12,0,1663814.story
3. Thomas H, Maugh II and Karen Kaplan. “Obesity puts swine flu sufferers at greater risk, study suggests” Los Angeles Times, November 4. Retrieved November 6, 2009 http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-sci-swine-flu4-2009nov04,0,2242205.story