British Dietetic Association issues influenza warning to those with a BMI over 40

British Dietetic Association issues influenza warning to those with a BMI over 40

23 October 2017

The annual influenza (flu) immunisation programme in Wales and the rest of the UK is now underway in time for the coming winter – and those with severe obesity (a BMI of 40 are above) are being urged by the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to get their free flu vaccination as soon as possible. The BDA is working with Beat Flu, a campaign being led by Public Health Wales, and the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) to spread this potentially life-saving message.

Last winter more than two thirds (69%) of people under the age of 65 with a BMI over 40 missed out on getting a free flu vaccination. Flu is a virus which can and does kill every year. People particularly ‘at risk’ of influenza and its complications, such as those with severe obesity, are given the vaccine at no cost as part of NHS care. A free vaccination can be access from either a GP surgery or community pharmacy.

Caroline Bovey, Chair of the BDA’s Wales Board explains why the influenza vaccination is vital for this vulnerable group: “Influenza is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. For those with severe obesity, influenza can be deadly.”

Mary O’Kane, Bariatric lead for the BDA Obesity Specialist Group and BOMSS council member added “the best way to protect against catching flu is by having the flu vaccine each year. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk by missing this potentially life-saving opportunity. Influenza cannot be treated with antibiotics, so make sure you get your flu vaccine for your own best protection. The vaccination also helps prevent the spread of the virus, so getting vaccinated helps keep you and also those around safe. It’s a win-win.”

Every year influenza circulates, but each year thousands of people who are at risk of serious complications because of age, pregnancy or a health condition fail to protect themselves. Health officials warn that even if you had the vaccine last year, it is very important to get it again this year. Immunity wanes and the influenza virus changes every year so you should have it again now for best protection this winter.

Please speak to your GP surgery or community pharmacist to arrange to have your influenza vaccination soon.

Notes for the Editor:

  • More information can be found by visiting or

  • Beat Flu Wales can be found on Twitter and Facebook (in English and Welsh) at @beatflu or @curwchffliw

  • Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.

  • Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, non-government organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.

  • Find us on twitter: @BrDieteticAssoc

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