Obesity Caused By a Virus: Will Your Kid Catch It?


It feels as though I see the words “childhood obesity” about 50 times a day. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they're there at least every time I open a newspaper. Was it always news and I just focus in now because I have kids of my own? Well, in any event, the coverage obesity gets these days is truly interminable. The problem must be huge.

I spend a lot of time wondering why the epidemic seems to have ballooned (so to speak) in the last few years, and working to keep my own kids from its grips. Are children really that much less healthy now than when I was living the life of a 10-year-old in the suburbs?  

A new study linking childhood obesity to a cold-like virus has my obsession completely turned around. The dirty little virus is called adenovirus 36, or AD-36, and it can infect fat cells, which, so far, no other type of virus has been able to do.

From a group of 124 kids between the ages of 8 and 18, researches discovered that those who tested positive for AD-36 weighed about 50 pounds more than those who didn’t carry the virus. Among the obese subset (based on body mass, 54 percent of the original 124 are considered obese), the AD-36 positive kiddies weighed about 35 pounds more than the obese kids who were negative.  

Sounds like a connection to me. I’d like to know what came first, the extra chub or the virus? The researches pointed out that "if a cause and effect relationship is established it would have considerable implications for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity."

I diligently scan labels for the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, and my children are almost as afraid of soda and fast food as they are of vermin. But is there possibly another answer, or at least another component, to this problem?

I would never dream of filling my kids' lunchboxes with the standard fare of my youth -- Hawaiian Punch, Ding Dongs, and sour cream and onion chips. Yet no one in my grammar school class could have been called obese. Maybe this damned virus is to blame for the current tubby state of things in our country!

Right now, my jury is still out as there still doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence to say for sure, but I’m certainly willing to believe that there is more to this ugly epidemic than crappy food and sedentary lifestyles.

What do you think?


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nutrition, toddler health


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xavie... xavierlogan09

i think researchers are trying to blame child obesity on everything other than the parents. if children eat healthier they won't be overweight. that starts with parents buying healthy food and instilling good eating habits with their children. my step mom blames my half sister's weight on thyroids. she lets her eat whatever and whenever she wants. she is very overweight and so is my half sister. my dad buys a ton of junk food and fast food for them. that's why their overweight. everyone needs to quit blaming mc donald's and viruses for children being overweight. they need to focus their attention on parents and tell them the health risks they are giving their children but instilling poor eating habits in them.

TJand... TJandACsMom

"I’d like to know what came first, the extra chub or the virus?" 

I'm willing to bet the chub came first.  A virus can only thrive in an environment it is suited for.  Thus, chubby presented a suitable host and the virus lived.  I agree with xavier.  Parents instill those habits into their children.  fast food is not to blame, the lack of control in balancing the healthy food with a few good treats here and there is to blame.  Everything in moderation. 

However, I also believe that there are some medical conditions that can cause an increase in weight as well as an increase in the difficulty to manage your weight.  This is wehn self-discipline comes into play and teaching that to your children is important as well.  You have to be willing to go beyond the easy to overcome that adversity and beat that medical condition that may cause the weight gain.  It has been done.

Lians... Liansmommie

I agree that the chub probably came first but I do also notice that despite the crap that most of the kids ate while we were growing up very few of them were obese as kids. Yet today there are far more proactive parents about nutrition and activity and the obesity epidemic is growing. It's a head scratcher. 

Maybe it's part of a governement population control experiment? ;D

maine... mainemusicmaker

There appears to be a link, however, one would wonder why the childhood obesity rate is only sky high in the US....I'd be curious to see how many asian kids tested positive for this virus.  They have obesity in Asia, true, but it's nothing like it is here in the States.


Matthew Gatheringwater

As to whether or not the children in this study were obese first or exposed to the virus first: Non-obese children also tested positive for exposure to the virus, which suggests to me that the virus comes first. 78% of the kids exposed to the virus were obese, while only 7% of the non-obese kids had been exposed.

Obviously, there are more factors at play than AD35 in the cause of obesity, but it is another bit of evidence to suggest that obesity should be treated as a disease, and not a case of bad parenting.

tonya... tonyalynn

i dont believe it

Jade Smith

Obesity occurs when the amount of food consumed exceeds the amount of energy expended. There are many reasons that encourage obesity the main being excess consumption of processed foods which have high fat or sugar content and low nutritional elements. Also less physical workout and activities lead to obesity. Not only these factors but some cannot be blamed as it is also generic and may be acquired due to heredity.

Devil... DevilInPigtails

I think it is BS.  Kids have more options for sedentary play then ever.  I remember as a child there were no 24 cartoon channels, video games systems, so you went out to play with friends.  And rode bikes, ran/walk around, played games, generally had fun outside. Nor did homework take 3 hours in the evening.  And recess, I had two recesses in grammar school, my daughter only has one.  So to say that there is one cause to childhood obesity is to simplistic, it is more complex.   Its nutrition, exercise put back into our daily routine.

tazdvl tazdvl

This is the funniest thing I have read all night.

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