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September 21, 2010

Virus may cause child obesity

According to new research, obese children who test positive for the viral infection, called adenovirus 36, weigh on average, 35 pounds more than obese children who do not carry the virus strain.

A team of researchers at the University of California in San Diego studied 124 kids aged eight to 18 for antibodies produced when their immune systems were exposed to adenovirus 36. A little more than half of the kids in the study (67) were in the category of obese, based on a Body Mass Index or BMI in the 95th percentile or higher.

There are more than 50 known types of adenoviruses & they are known to cause respiratory infections or gastrointestinal tract infections. Other studies has shown that adenovirus 36 can infect fat cells. So far no other type of virus has been shown to impact fat cells. The virus, adenovirus 36, was first isolated in 1978. Previous Studies has shown that chicken or mice given similar types of viruses showed a statistically significant weight gain.

“Our study is one example of the complexity of obesity,” said Schwimmer, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, in a telephone interview on Sept. 14. “It can’t simply be reduced to eating too much and moving too little. That’s not the whole story.” The report lists a number of possible ways in which infection with adenovirus 36 could promote obesity, but that mechanism remains poorly understood & certainly need additional studies.

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