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Common Cold Virus May Be Linked to Obesity

The link between obesity and a common virus strain is one of the most recent research proposals that scientists have advanced to explain the cause of weight gain. The virus, known as adenovirus-36 or AD-36 that is thought to be linked to obesity, is also the cause of the common cold, eye infections and sore throats. Most preliminary studies that have been conducted on animals with the obesity virus suggest that those infected with AD-36 virus had a rise in their body fat, while similar studies on human cells reported that the virus can transform stem cells from fatty tissues into fat cells. However, researchers are concerned about the wide acceptance of obesity as an infectious disease because only preliminary studies have been conducted and scientific proof is still inconclusive.

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In terms of the mechanics of how the common cold virus may cause obesity, animal weight studies suggests that the virus enters the body through the lungs and then circulates through out the body infecting fat cells. Once infected, the fat cells multiply and are induced to produce more fat cells. This causes the cells to not only increase in size making them even larger, but replicate themselves at a rapid rate. Based on this finding, most studies suggest that the AD-36 virus can cause one to have an increase in body fat that could be observed by a sudden gain in weight or obesity.

It is also interesting to know that the same studies have found that while some animals infected with adenovirus-36 virus had gained some weight others afflicted by the same virus did not seem to experience any symptoms at all. This observation shows that more studies are needed to further understand the extent that obesity in populations can be attributed to AD-36 compared to other factors, such as unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, which are primary reasons why people become overweight and obese.

Currently, the focus of research is on why some people infected with the obesity virus are more prone to become obese than others. In addition, scientists are still not sure of if or how the virus can make one fat, but they are sure it can cause accumulation of fat in animals. Researchers have identified fifty strains of the adenovirus so far, out of which only a few may be linked to obesity.

Understanding how the common cold virus may cause obesity is still in its early phases, but it is a growing interest in the health field. Could the recent obesity epidemic in countries such as the United States and Australia be caused by something as inconspicuous as a virus? Could a yearly flu shot be the answer for keeping away unwanted pounds? Science would suggest likely not. What we do know is contributing to the obesity epidemics in these countries is poor diet and a lack of physical activity in daily lives. Thus, until research is more conclusive about how AD-36 may promote weight gain, society needs to continue to focus on more practical measures to lose weight, like consuming a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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