Obesity could be contagious
- By: Jenny Blythe
Obesity could be caused by a virus in some people, says a study published in last month's International Journal of Obesity (2000; 24: 989-96).
Human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) may be responsible for fat accumulation in up to 30% of obese people. In the study, obese individuals with these viral antibodies also had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Dr Nikhil Dhuranda is one of the doctors behind the research. He originally injected mice and chickens with Ad-36 and found that 60-70% of the animals became clinically obese. On screening 500 people in the United States, he discovered that 30% of obese individuals carried the antibodies.
“This is the first time a human virus has been associated with obesity,” says Dhuranda. He originally thought that there might be a viral link to obesity when he heard that a viral epidemic killed poultry in his native India. The virus killed thousands of chickens, yet