Interaction of obesity and infections

Obes Rev. 2015 Dec;16(12):1017-29. doi: 10.1111/obr.12320. Epub 2015 Sep 10.


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.

Keywords: Infection; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / isolation & purification
  • Adenovirus Infections, Human / immunology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / immunology
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / isolation & purification*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Obesity / virology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surgical Wound Infection / immunology
  • Weight Gain


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents