The U.S Department of Health and Human Services in their NIH Publication prefers to measure obesity using Body Mass Index (BMI); a practicable approach based on height and weight calculation. Using BMI an obese person is defined as one whose BMI is equal to or above 30. This accumulation of excessive fat presenting a health risk is known to be caused by eating more and exercising less. The obvious conclusion has for years overlooked a possible origin of human obesity via an infectious agent. A certain strain of a cold virus Human Adenovirus AD-36 has now been shown to promote visceral obesity and a reduction of serum lipids (Nikhil 1). AD – 36 Is among a family of about 50 viruses that cause such complications as eye inflammations, infections to upper respiratory organs, gastrointestinal problems, and most commonly common colds.
Childhood Obesity and Cold Virus
AD-36 was first isolated from child feces in 1978 in Germany (Reynolds 1). The virus has shown a new side effect in mice and chickens understudy in form of an increase in adipose tissue. A subsequent study involving 500 volunteers showed the presence of AD-36 in 30 percent of volunteers with obesity versus 11 percent in those without obesity (Reynolds 1). More conclusive studies were carried out on 89 twins later and it was found out that twins with AD-36 antibodies were more likely to become obese than their twin siblings without AD-36 antibodies. Another study directed by Nick (34) at the weight program at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego involved 124 children ages 8 to 18 years with 67 obese and 57 normal. From the previous analysis, more than 20 percent of obese children produced AD-36 positive results, another 7 percent of nonobese kids had AD-36 testing positive. Of the 19 children with AD-36 antibodies, 15 were obese. From these outcomes, it, therefore, becomes most likely that a person with AD-36 can become obese and thus AD-36 can be defined as a possible cause of obesity (Dhurandhar 2795). The conclusion reached is an inductive one.
In the first premise, 22% of the children with the AD-36 virus had obesity. The second premise is the fact that 7% of the children that had the AD-36 virus were not obese. It is therefore not very representative to say that the virus causes obesity
I agree with the stated fact that the AD-36 virus causes obesity. In 2001 a group of scientists coined the term “infobesity” i.e. obesity of an infectious origin (Reynolds 1). This was large because the mechanism of AD-36 leading to obesity appeared to genetically direct the host cells of a human to turn on lipogenic (fat-producing) enzymes thus the productions of new fat cells. This turns into fat tissues existing cells. In a certain study, infection of adult stem cells from fat tissue cells with AD-36 transformed them into fat cells while unexposed stem cells remain unchanged (Atkinson 42). Samples of stem cells have been accumulated after they were taken from various liposuction victims. With half the cells being exposed to AD-36 and the other half kept un-infected. A week of being kept in tissue culture showed that the infected stem cells became fat cells while the un-infected cells remained as they were. Magdalena Pasarica, M.D., Ph.D., from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is not dismissing the possibility of viruses in humans that might result in obesity. The tissue culture experiment provided immense evidence of the contribution of AD-36 to obesity.
AD-36 is certainly not the sole cause of obesity but conclusive evidence shows that infection by the AD-36 virus almost certainly leads to obesity. This cold virus strain can therefore be linked to obesity. However, the conclusion reached is an inductive one. The reason is that while it is true that 22% of the children with the AD-36 virus had obesity, the remaining ones still had no obesity. In addition, 7% of the children had the AD-36 virus but were not obese. It is therefore not very representative to say that the virus causes obesity.
Atkinson, Richard. Could viruses contribute to the worldwide epidemic of obesity? International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. (2008): 37-43.
Dhurandhar, Neil. Infectobesity: obesity of infectious origin. Journal of Nutrition. (2001) 131:2794-2797.
Nick, Kolakowski. The Obesity Virus. 2005. Web.
Nikhil, Dhurandhar et. al, Nutritional Immunology. The Journal of Nutrition (2002): 3155-3158.
Reynolds, Kelly. Infectobesity’: Can Water Borne Viruses Cause Excessive Weight Gain. New York: Routledge Publishers, 2010.