Virus may cause people to gain weight
A virus may actually contribute to weight gain and obesity, according to a growing body of research.
When the virus, known as adenovirus 36, infects a person, it works by changing his or her metabolic rate, said Richard L. Atkinson, head of the Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, Virginia. The virus causes fat tissue cells to make more fat cells, which, in turn, store more fat. The active virus stays in the body for about one month, but it can take one or two years before it leads to obesity, researchers said.
Recent studies have found the link between adenovirus 36 and weight and fat gain to be consistent in humans, mice, rats and monkeys. In one study conducted in 2012 by researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, evidence showed that out of 1,400 people, those who were infected by adenovirus 36 gained significantly more body fat over a 10-year period than did those who were not infected.
While the virus does disappear from the body realitively quickly, the link to obesity is another reason that people should take extra precautions, such as washing their hands frequently and avoiding touching the mouth or nose with unclean hands in order to avoid becoming infected. Researchers said they plan on working on a vaccine against the virus.