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February 5, 2006

Obesity May Be Contagious

Topics: Health Issues

adenoviren.jpeg.jpgAs most of us are aware, obesity is increasing rapidly in the United States as well as in other countries, and the World Health Organization considers obesity to be a worldwide epidemic with the potential for major consequences to public health. Obesity is known to cause or exacerbate a number of diseases and co-morbidities in humans. Etiology of obesity includes genetic, metabolic, social, behavioral and cultural factors. Although obesity has multiple causes, an often overlooked possibility is that of obesity due to an infection.

So, can there be such a thing as infectious obesity? If researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, are right, human adenoviruses may cause human obesity, but more research is needed before a screening test and vaccine could actually become reality (assuming the research proves to be both consistantly repeatable and statistically significant). Meanwhile, you might do well to, "'Eat right, exercise, AND wash your hands (which you should be doing anyway)."

(...) This surprising suggestion is based on accumulating evidence that certain viruses may cause obesity, in essence making it a contagious disease...

(...) (researchers) found that the human adenovirus Ad-37 causes obesity in chickens. This finding builds on studies that two related viruses, Ad-36 and Ad-5, also cause obesity in animals. Ad-37, Ad-36 and Ad-5 are part of a family of approximately 50 viruses known as human adenoviruses.

(...) Ad-36 has been associated with obesity not only in animals, but also in humans, . leading researchers to suspect that Ad-37 may be implicated in human obesity as well.

(...) More research is needed on this question. In one study, only a handful of people showed evidence of infection with Ad-37 -- not enough to draw any conclusions.

Although this report offers interesting possibilities in the battle of the bulge, until much more is learned about the adipogenic potential of human adenoviruses, don't abandon a common sense approach to eating balanced and healthy meals of an appropriate amount for your size and weight, moderate exercise, and proper rest. Leave the french fries and other fried foods alone.

Posted by Richard at February 5, 2006 5:12 PM



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