An obesity virus?

Could a common strain of virus that causes acute respiratory symptoms in children be behind the surge on childhood obesity in this country?

Researchers at University of California–San Diego took blood samples and determined the body-mass-indexes of 124 children between 8 and 18 years of age (67 were obese).  Nineteen of the children were found to have antibodies of andeovirus 36 (AD36) – one of a family of 55 viruses that infect the respiratory tract, intestines and other tissues.

Most of those children that tested positive for the virus antibodies were obese – 15 of the 19. The virus was present in 22 percent of the 67 obese children compared with 7 percent of the 57 who were nonobese. Moreover, those who kids who tested positive for the virus were significantly larger in terms of weight, BMI and waist circumference, the researchers reported in the study published online in the journal Pediatrics.

“These data support an association of obesity and higher body weight with the presence of neutralizing antibodies to AD36 in children,” the researchers wrote. “If a cause-and-effect relationship is established, it would have considerable implications fro the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.”

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