Obesity researchers finger cold virus as culprit

A team of researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana have been building a case that a common cold virus can help trigger obesity. Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar says he has gathered blood samples from a large number of patients at an obesity clinic who appear to be influenced by adenovirus-36. In one of their studies the researchers concluded that the virus is found to be far more common in the obese population than among the slim.

When this virus goes to the fat tissue it replicates, making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of fat cells, which may explain why people get fat when infected with this virus," says the scientists. If they're right, obesity is a condition that could spread as easily as the common cold--and by the same means.

Skeptics abound, however, noting a large number of the obese do not carry the virus. But they concede that adenovirus-36 could be a contributing factor worth further investigation.

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