Study Suggests An Infectious Virus Could Lead to Obesity

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email

Can you catch obesity like you can catch the common cold?
In this St Joseph Health Scene Report, we take a look at a common, infectious virus that could cause you to pack on the pounds.
The alleged perpetrator is a common type of infectious Adeno-virus called AD-36.
A British researcher says AD-36 could help explain why having heavy friends means you're probably overweight too.
Far-fetched? That's what many thought.
"Sounds a little ridiculous to me frankly because seems to me there's enough evidence that it's partially genetic and partially poor habits," said one man.
Here's the evidence.
A study out of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana found that one third of obese people he tested showed signs of inefection with the virus, compared to just 11 percent of normal weight people.
And even normal weight people tended to be heavier if they had been infected with AD-36.
But Dr. Louis Aronne, a New York obesity expert and researcher, says that's not the same as saying the virus causes obesity.
"I would say that the real impact is it makes it easier to gain weight rather than to actually cause obesity," Dr. Aronne said.
What is interesting about the study was that if you infect fat cells in the lab with the virus, they reproduce more readily, which suggests a way the the virus can do it's dirty work.
But the bottom line is..."this doesn't do anything for the treatment of obesity. If you've had this you could diagnose it, you can do a blood test to diagnose it but it doesn't help us in treating the problem," Dr. Aronne continued.
"I think it's more what people eat and kind of their work ethics and hitting the gym."

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