Impact of Positive Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors on the Effectiveness of the Influenza Vaccine in Obese Adults


Obesity is a public health epidemic that is associated with increased risk of developing a large number of negative health implications, including being linked with increased susceptibility to viral infections. Influenza is an acute viral infection that affects the respiratory systems and is caused by the influenza virus. Every year, influenza infects a large portion of the population and can even result in death. During the H1N1 2009 pandemic, obesity was identified as an independent risk factor for the influenza virus. Vaccination has been identified as the most effective method for prevention of the virus, however obese adults have shown impaired immunological response to influenza vaccination. Increased physical activity and consumption of high quality diets have been shown to produce increased immune response, however the impact that these lifestyle factors have on obese adults receiving the influenza vaccine is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects that positive diet and physical activity behaviors had on the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in obese adults. A sample of 40 subjects were selected and classified into two groups by lifestyle category, healthy and unhealthy, through the use of a diet and physical activity survey screener. Blood serum was collected pre- and 30 days post-vaccination, and IgG antibody levels were measured through absorbance readings. Although there were no statistically significant differences in the percent change in IgG levels between the unhealthy and healthy groups, the larger percent change exhibited by obese adults classified as healthy, and among those with higher physical activity levels and better diet quality scores, suggests a better response to the influenza virus compared to the obese participants who were unhealthy, with lower physical activity levels and low quality diets. Therefore, obese adults who follow healthy lifestyles may be better protected from the influenza virus than obese adults who do not. As the prevalence of obesity among the population continues to increase, it will be important to find ways to increase the effectiveness of the flu vaccine among this vulnerable population in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality which accompanies the influenza virus.Bachelor of Science in Public Healt

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