A new (but small) study has uncovered a possible correlation between childhood obesity the presence of a virus: "Children who showed signs of infection with adenovirus 36 (AD36), a common cause of some colds and eye infections, were an average of 50 pounds heavier than those who had no antibodies to the virus."

This doesn't axiomatically indicate causation. Other "obesity experts" (particularly those with a vested interest in the fat-makes-you-sick framing) point out that being fat could conceivably make one more vulnerable to contract the virus. However:
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.

...The virus appeared to have a particularly pronounced effect among the heavy children: those who were positive for AD36 weighed an average of 35 pounds more than other obese kids who didn't have the antibodies.
"This shows that body weight regulation and the development of obesity are very complicated issues," says Captain Obvious Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, the study's senior author. "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."


At the moment, though, there is no test for AD36 available to the general public, and no vaccine for AD36, anyway. So Dr. Goutham Rao, clinical director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh recommends: "Instead of coming to the doctor and requesting a test for the virus, parents would do better to discuss key behaviors to combat obesity." LOL.

[H/T to Shaker roro80.]

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