Interaction of obesity and infections

N. V. Dhurandhar, D. Bailey, D. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


There is evidence that certain infections may induce obesity. Obese persons may also have more severe infections and have compromised response to therapies. The objective of this study is to review the available literature identifying infections that potentially contribute to greater body mass index (BMI) and differential responses of overweight and obese persons to infections. A systematic literature review of human studies examining associations between infections and weight gain, differential susceptibility, severity, and response to prevention and treatment of infection according to BMI status (January 1980-July 2014) was conducted. Three hundred and forty-three studies were eligible for inclusion. Evidence indicated that viral infection by human adenovirus Ad36 and antibiotic eradication of Helicobacter pylori were followed by weight gain. People who were overweight or obese had higher susceptibility to developing post-surgical infections, H1N1 influenza and periodontal disease. More severe infections tended to be present in people with a larger BMI. People with a higher BMI had a reduced response to vaccinations and antimicrobial drugs. Higher doses of antibiotics were more effective in obese patients. Infections may influence BMI, and BMI status may influence response to certain infections, as well as to preventive and treatment measures. These observations have potential clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1029
Number of pages13
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • Infection
  • Obesity


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