Common Cold Virus Makes Kids Fat?
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21 September 2010
Washington, DC USA
A recent study by American experts revealed that childhood viral infection could be one of the causes of obesity.
University of California, San Diego, researchers found that obese children were far more likely to have antibodies to a specific strain of adenovirus than normal weight children, according to the report published early online in Pediatrics.
Children who showed signs of infection with adenovirus 36 (AD36), a common cause of some colds and eye infections, were an average of 22.6kg heavier than those who had no antibodies to the virus, reports MSNBC.
"This shows that body weight regulation and the development of obesity are very complicated issues," MSNBC quoted the study’s senior author, Jeffrey Schwimmer, an associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego as saying. "It’s not simply a case that some children eat too much and others don’t. There are children who eat all the wrong things in all the wrong quantities who are not obese."
Outside experts cautioned that the new research doesn’t prove that the virus causes weight gain – it’s entirely possible that obese kids are just more likely to get the virus.
Still, earlier research with cells in petri dishes suggests that the virus may cause changes in the body that lead to weight gain. Some studies have shown that the virus can enter fat cell precursors, rewiring them to spew out more fat cells, while others have shown that the virus can modify fat cells themselves so that they store more fat.
Other experiments have shown that animals have significant weight gain after researchers infect them with AD36.
Schwimmer and colleagues examined 124 children, ages 8 to 18, for the presence of antibodies specific to adenovirus 36 (AD36). AD36 is the only human adenovirus currently linked to human obesity. Kids who were AD36–positive weighed almost 22.6kg more, on average, than children who were AD36–negative. Within the group of obese kids, those with evidence of AD36 infection weighed an average of 15.8kg more than obese children who were AD36–negative.