Carrying too much weight? How obesity places you at greater risk

Carrying too much weight? How obesity places you at greater risk

IF 2020 has taught us anything, it's that obesity raises the risk of suffering more complications if contracting illnesses, for example, COVID-19.

Doctors believe that the immune systems of overweight people are always switched 'on' to try to protect and repair the constant damage inflammation causes to cells.

Using all its energy fending off inflammation means the body’s defences are lowered and unable to effectively defend against new infections.

If you fall into this category, then there has never been a more pressing time to achieve a healthy weight - and include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to support and protect your health.

Foods containing high levels of polyphenols and anthocyanins, such as blackcurrants, have been highlighted in studies for helping reduce the risk of obesity1,5.

Their natural anti-inflammatory properties may play several roles in helping dampen harmful chronic inflammation6 – while their antioxidants help the immune system to function properly.

Many studies2,3,4, have shown that obesity drives harmful low-grade inflammation, and the reason their immune systems are always in overdrive. 

It's becoming accepted that it plays a major role in the development of other associated illnesses and makes obese individuals more susceptible.

With new the presentation of a new infection, the body's ability to fight it effectively is diminished.

This is partly because they have a higher concentration of immune cells - known as macrophages - in their fatty tissues. These macrophages have higher levels of activity and fat cells become a reservoir for these macrophages, which are responsible for troublesome inflammatory responses.

A growing body of science is showing that blackcurrants may help the immune system fight inflammation, not only in an exercise capacity, but in a health sense, too.

Several studies on blackcurrant anthocyanins have shown great promise for reducing obesity-associated inflammation1,6,8 and dampening cytokine responses1.

The message seems to be that blackcurrant helps the body respond to inflammation in the right way, at the right time, and helps combat persistent harmful inflammation that occurs with obesity.



  1. Blackcurrant Extract Exerts an Anti-Inflammatory Action by Modulating Macrophage Phenotypes. Y Lee et al, Nutrients, April 2019
  2. Obesity and the role of adipose tissue in inflammation and metabolism. Greenburg et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006, 83, S461–S465
  3. The cellular and signaling networks linking the immune system and metabolism in disease. Osborn et al, Natural Medicine 2012, 18, 363–374
  4. Inflammatory mechanisms in obesity. Gregor et al, Annual Revue Immunology 2011, 29, 415–445.
  5. Dietary Anthocyanins against Obesity and Inflammation, Yoon-Mi Lee et al, Nutrients, 2017
  6. Dietary anthocyanins as nutritional therapy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Valenti et al, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2013, 2013.
  7. Polyphenol-rich blackcurrant extract prevents inflammation in diet-induced obese mice. Benn et al, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2014, 25, 1019–1025.
  8. Short‑term, but not acute, intake of New Zealand blackcurrant extract improves insulin sensitivity and free‑living postprandial glucose excursions in individuals with overweight or obesity, Nolan et al, European Journal of Nutrition, July 2020.