Saturday, October 27, 2007

Viral Obesity!

There has been a growing concern over the population of obese adults and overweight children; this concern has especially grown in the United States. The general consensus as to why the belt size of the population has grown is that as the country’s economy improves, the quantity of food presented at the dinner table has increased dramatically, that along with improved technology has caused both children and adults to stay indoors sitting in front of the TV or computer instead of heading outdoors for fresh air and exercise.

The cause for obesity is not a secret. Most of people know obesity occurs because of the consumption of more calories than what is burn in a person’s daily activities! (However, what causes the imbalance between calorie consumption and calorie output differs from person to person, and possible factors can be due to genetics, physiological, environmental factors…etc.) Most of us also understand the health risk one must face if he or she is obese. These risks include: developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gout, cancer, gallbladder disease, sleep apnoea, and osteoarthritis.

Scientists have long understood that obesity is not only caused by eating more and exercising less (although it is the main factor in obesity); however, it’s not until recently have they discovered that a virus may be one of the other factors at play causing obesity. According to Dr. Atkinson, director of Obetech Richmond, Va., several studies have offered evidence that animals infected with human virus called Human Ad-36 experienced excess weight gain and fat storage and that the resulting weight gain could be transmitted from infected animals to uninfected animals. He also conducted his studies on humans. Atkinson screened 502 people of varying body weights (both obese and non-obese) for antibodies to Ad-36, and found that the antibodies were found in 30% of obese individuals and 11% of lean individuals. He also did his study on twins and found that within a pair of twins, the one that was screened antibody positive was “significantly heavier than their antibody negative co-twins.”

Moreover, a team at Louisiana’s Pennington Center conducted another experiment using stem cells from fatty tissues taken from liposuction patients and exposed these stem cells to Ad-36 and found that these exposed stem cells had changed into human fat cells after one week; however, the non exposed stem cells were not transformed. Dr. Magdalena Pasarcia, who led this research said: “We're not saying that a virus is the only cause of obesity, but this study provides stronger evidence that some obesity cases may involve viral infections.” Now, researchers are trying to produce a vaccine against Ad-36 (but this will take years to develop).

Although studies have proved that the virus can play a role in obesity, we cannot allow ourselves to live an unhealthy lifestyle. If a person has an unhealthy lifestyle and because of that lifestyle has developed diseases linked to obesity, there really is no point in blaming it on his or her genetic inheritance or viral infection. These studies did show that even with the viral infection, many people can live without being affect by the virus! This new discovery is not going to cure all obese patients overnight (and lower the risks of other disease that follows it.) It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep his or her own mental and physical health at the best shape possible. Eat right, think right and live healthy!

1 comment:

Dominic B. said...

I am happy that you did not forget to mention this quote: "We're not saying that a virus is the only cause of obesity, but this study provides stronger evidence that some obesity cases may involve viral infections".

I think obesity an be caused by multiple factors. However some people seem to blame something else that their own behaviour. I am not saying that everybody is responsible for their own battle with weight, however the weight loss industry thrives on failure and is quite successful...isn't that ironic?