Obesity and the Flu

Obesity and the Flu

Silent inflammation is a condition that occurs when the body’s natural immune response goes awry. Obesity is the primary cause of silent inflammation and excess body fat is causing today’s epidemic rise in countless health threats. Silent inflammation attacks all the organ systems of the body.

Silent inflammation is the first sign that your body is out of balance and you are no longer well. You can not feel it, but it is grinding down all your body organs, and your immune system. There are underlying hormonal changes that are linked to silent inflammation.

The visceral or abdominal fat is now understood to be a major endocrine organ, which secretes several hormones. Adiponectin, Leptin and Tumor Necrosis Factor—alpha (TNF-a) are the master adipose tissue hormones. They regulate each other as well as other adipokines such as Resistin, Interleukin—6 (IL-6), and C-Reactive Protein (CRP).

The most important contributors to increased morbidity and mortality of the flu virus on over weight and obese individuals are cardiovascular, pulmonary diseases and endocrine diseases.

The influenza viruses of man are now viewed as species of a large genus—the orthomyxoviruses—parasite upon many birds and mammals. The extraordinary capacity of the 1918 human epidemic both to infect and to cause pulmonary complications and death in young adults was an example of a true enhancement of virulence of the causative virus for man.

Unusually lethal outbreaks of influenza seem to be related to particularly intense degrees of infection and to the altered host susceptibility. The antigenic relations between the animal and the human viruses have provided fascinating material for speculation upon the most important characteristics of the Type A human viruses.


A. Respiratory

  1. Tracheobronchitis
  2. Bronchiolitis
  3. Bronchitis
  4. Pneumonitis
  5. Pneumonia

B. Cardiac

  1. Myocarditis
  2. Dysrrhythmia
  3. Abnormal heart sounds
  4. Congestive heart failure
  5. Hypotension
  6. Diffuse interstitial mycocarditis
  7. Fibrinoid degeneration of myocardial arterioles
  8. Pericardial effusion
  9. Pericarditis

C. Neurologic

  1. Encephalitis
  2. Encephalopathy
  3. Convulsions
  4. Coma
  5. Acute confusional states
  6. Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome
  7. Post—encephalic Parkinsonism
  8. Reye’s Syndrome

D. Endocrine

  1. Diabetic ketosis
  2. Diabetic ketoacidosis

Excess insulin’s link to silent inflammation stems from the fact that it increases the production of Arachidonic Acid (AA). Excess insulin also increases the production of Interleukin—6 (IL-6) from fat.

When your body is in a constant state of silent inflammation, it reacts by having your adrenal glands pump out high amounts of cortisol, the primary anti-inflammatory hormone you have to shut down excess inflammation. At the cellular level, all stress creates an inflammatory state caused by an over production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Cortisol is sent out as an anti-stress hormone to lower the level of these eicosanoids, which is fine over the short run when stress is temporary. But having a high level of constant silent inflammation means you are going to have high levels of cortisol on a permanent basis, causing a number of nasty complications on your organ systems.

The “thrifty-gene” or the insulin resistant gene has protected individuals during long periods of storing energy as fat rather than as glycogen in muscles. The “thrifty-gene” worked well when humans were “hunter/ gatherers” before the agricultural revolution.

The abundance of food in Western Society has made this once protective gene a deleterious one, suggesting that these individuals are not equipped with the metabolic machinery to handle overeating.

Excess body weight is one of the biggest generators of chronic inflammation. Excess body weight poses serious threats to the health of our nation and to the individuals who struggle with the condition.

Nearly 130 million Americans feel the impact of excess weight in every aspect of their daily lives—physically, emotionally, mentally, and even financially.

Those with serious weight issues are at much greater risk for developing life-threatening illnesses such as type II diabetes, pulmonary diseases, stroke and cancer.

Chronic inflammation is associated with the endothelial cell dysfunction of all the organ systems.

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Respiratory
  3. Endocrine
  4. Gastrointestinal and abdominal
  5. Musculoskeletal
  6. Genitourinary
  7. Psychoneurologic
  8. Integument
  9. Cancers

The foods we eat, the dietary supplements we take, the exercises we do, the reactions we have to life’s stresses—all interplay with our genetics and impact what hormones our fat cells secrete and what messages they give our bodies. Udoh O. Obioha, M.D. is one of the few board-certified bariatric physicians in the U.S. Bariatric medicine is a specialty devoted to the treatment of overweight, obesity, and related co-morbid medical conditions.

Dr. Obioha offers a scientifically designed, comprehensive, non-surgical approach to weight management, one that balances professional guidance and personal accountability for sustained success. He has helped thousands of patients reach and maintain their weight loss goals since the 1980s.

Dr. Obioha has published numerous articles on bariatric medicine and is a co-author of “Passing Your Nutrition and Bariatric Board Examinations.” He is currently an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.