Infectious diseases
Overweight patients are more likely to survive infections, finds studiesCreative Commons

Obesity is a serious health issue and has been linked directly to cancer, heart disease, and early death. However, if they are in a hospital, they are more likely to survive an infectious disease than others.

Scientists taking up the study are calling it the "Obesity Paradox" and the study was conducted in three separate phases on patients admitted to hospital with a host of infectious diseases, notes a report by the Guardian.

The first study was done in Denmark and it involved a total of 18,000 people between the years 2011 and 2015, and the study found that overweight patients were 40 percent less likely to die of an infection, and the obese 50 percent less likely to die, when compared to "normal weight."

The study looked at patients with the risk of death within 90 days of entering hospital and discounted those with a history of smoking or other underlying medical conditions.

The second study was done in the US, and involved 1.7m hospital admissions specifically for pneumonia between 2013 and 2014. In this case researchers found that patients marked "overweight" were 23 percent more likely to live and "obese" patients were found to be 29 percent more likely to survive than those within normal weight range.

The third study was also conducted in the US, but this time carried out on patients with sepsis, or blood poisoning. Here too, notes the report, researchers found a similar result. This study involved 3 million patients and those who were overweight were 23 percent less likely to succumb to their infections, obese patients 22 percent less likely to die than patients of within a healthy weight.

As to why this happens, Sigrid Gribsholt of Aarhus University in Denmark, who led research in the first study, said that there are two possible reasons. First - obesity often causes inflammation in the body which kicks up internal immune responses which in turn could lead to better recovery from infections. Second - obese and overweight people seem to handle wasting away because of disease a little better because, "They have larger energy reserves, which may also be protective," she explained.

Results of the three separate studies on obesity were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.