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According to a study conducted by the European Association for the Study of Obesity, patients admitted to a hospital for treating any infectious disease are around twice as likely to survive if they are overweight or obese.
The study was conducted on more than 18,000 patients by Sigrid Gribsholt and colleagues in Denmark.
The association between body mass index (BMI) and mortality remains controversial. From an evolutionary perspective, obesity and associated proinflammatory defenses may protect against death from infections. In this new study, the authors examined the impact of BMI on outcome after any acute incident hospital admission for infection in a population-based study.
The study team identified 35,406 persons with an incident acute medical or surgical inpatient admission for an infectious disease during 2011-2015 in the Central Denmark Region. They examined the risk of death within 90 days after discharge in association with underweight, overweight and obesity, versus normal weight as a reference.
They adjusted for potential confounding factors and examined the influence of recent weight change, comorbidities, cancer, and tobacco smoking on the association between BMI and mortality.
Compared with patients of normal weight, the adjusted risk of death following infection was 2.2 times higher in patients with underweight. However, no mortality increase was observed among patients with stable underweight, that is, no recent weight loss which could indicate other health problems.
In contrast, overweight patients were 40 percent less likely to die and those who were obese, and 50 percent less likely to die than those of normal weight.
Among patients with obesity, presence or absence of recent weight changes, comorbidities, cancer, or smoking had little effect on the association with decreased mortality.
The authors conclude, "Overweight and obesity were associated with substantially reduced 90-day mortality following incident hospital admission for infection. An association between underweight and increased mortality was confined to patients with recent weight loss, suggesting confounding by other hidden diseases."
The study was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria.
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