Is obesity infectious?

Virus linked to problems with weight and obesity in children

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Childhood obesity may not be entirely down to bad diet and a couch potato lifestyle, US researchers have suggested. A new study has linked exposure to a virus called AD36 to a greater likelihood of being obese.

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The study looked at 124 children and discovered that those who had antibodies for the virus weighed an average of 35lbs more than those children who had not been infected.

It is unclear how this infection causes obesity. This small study suggests that infection could cause immature fat cells to develop more quickly, but more research is necessary to fully understand what happens to children who catch the virus.

“Many people believe that obesity is your own fault or the fault of your parents or family,” said Dr Jeffrey Schwimmer, who led the study. “This work helps point out that body weight is more complicated than it’s made out to be.”

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Dr Jeffrey added that he hopes this research help change people’s perception of obesity, “It is time that we move away from assigning blame in favour of developing a level of understanding that will help support efforts at both prevention and treatment.”

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