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OBESITY can be “caught” as easily as a common cold from other people’s coughs, sneezes and dirty hands, scientists will claim today.
Researchers believe that an airborne “adenovirus” germ could be causing the fat plague that is blighting Britain and other countries. As many as one in three obese people may have become overweight after falling victim to the highly infectious cold-like virus, known as AD-36. It is known to cause coughs, sore throats, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis but has now also been found to make fat cells multiply, leading to weight gain. The shocking discovery will add to evidence that Britain’s obesity epidemic is not simply down to an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise.
Research suggests a third of UK adults will be grossly overweight within three years, with Britain even predicted to overtake the US as the most obese nation in the world. The problem already causes 9,000 premature deaths in the UK a year and costs the NHS £1billion.
Many experts already believe that genes can make some people more susceptible to weight gain and now it seems that infections could also hold the key. Studies have shown that chickens and mice infected with AD-36 put on weight quicker than uninfected animals, even when they were not given extra food. It has also been found to cause huge weight gain in monkeys. Now studies on humans show that 33 per cent of obese adults had contracted AD-36 at some point in their lives, compared with only 11 per cent of lean men and women. Professor Nikhil Dhurandhar, of Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana, US, who led the research, said AD-36 continued to add weight gain long after those infected had seemingly recovered.
His studies indicated that the virus lingers for up to three months, during which time it multiplies fat and is contagious to others. Dr Dhurandhar, who will make the extraordinary claims on BBC2’s Horizon tonight, said: “We now know that this virus goes to the lungs and spreads to various organs such as the liver, kidney, brain and fat tissue. “When it goes to fat tissue it replicates, making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of new fat cells, which may explain why people get fat when they are infected with this virus.” The findings were welcomed by some medical experts, although others sounded a note of caution. Dr Shahrad Taheri, clinical director for obesity at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said: “Most people believe obesity is caused by environmental factors.
“But there is a lot of information about how things like the furring up of arteries could be linked to infections. It is not beyond reason to think about various different factors, including infections, adding into the mix about what causes obesity.” Tony Barnett, professor of medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: “These associations may give some clues but they detract from the basic message that we all need to take more exercise and eat a bit less. “This kind of research needs to go on but we have to be cautious.”
Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “We must acknowledge it is a contribution to the research but it doesn’t alter the management of obesity.” The documentary also reveals research which claims to explain why those on diets feel permanently hungry, even when overweight. A US study found that people have a “natural body weight” and respond to losing a few pounds in the same way as if they were starving. The findings suggest that overweight people who diet will always suffer hunger pangs, even if they become lean and healthy.
THE CHUBBY BUG. 26.01.09, 1:10pm Someone here is, surely, having a laugh! Just as, years ago folk believed or, at least they SAID they believed that one could get a dose of "The Clap" by sitting on an infected lavvy seat are we to seriously consider the possibilities that one can "catch fat" from a nasty little bug? Why is it that, during the war years when all of us were on rations and therefore enjoyed a balanced, natural and limited diet this bug was so dormant? Take a look at any newsreels of the time and try to "Spot the Fatty." This bug was also completely comatose in the concentration camps of the Nazis and the prisoner of war camps of the Japanese. When will people just face up to the fact that most of us eat too much, eat the wrong stuff and lead completely sedentary lives. Don't blame" The Bug." Admit that you are a lazy, idle, fat slob and then DO something about it.
OBESITY EXCUSE NUMBER 244... 26.01.09, 12:56pm Articles like this always worry me. While the research sounds interesting (if a little unsound in its very 'generalised' conclusions) it gives people who are obese yet another excuse to fall back on when diet after diet fails. There is no doubt in my mind that genetics play a part. I know people who are very slim foodie coach potatoes. However, there can be no getting away from the facts that poor diet, excessive calorie intake and an inactive lifestyle cause obesity. Its not just a demand for food issue, its also supply though. The food industry has made it easier and easier for us to pile on the pounds. IT needs to change and WE need to change - regardless of any underlying 'medical' predispositions.