Inflammation, autoimmune problems and even cancer can result
Blair River was described as “a big guy with a big heart.” The 575-pound former high school wrestler from Mesa, Ariz., became such a fixture at the Heart Attack Grill that he was recruited to be the restaurant’s official spokesperson. His satirical ads made him a minor celebrity in central Arizona. He died in 2011 at age 29 — not because of his heart but from complications of influenza.
It was not entirely surprising: Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.
Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.