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Obesity Virus

March 2, 2006

It’s well known that washing your hands will help you avoid catching colds. But could it also keep you from getting fat?


Can you catch obesity? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Besides diet and genetics, scientists have been looking into whether viruses could be a cause of obesity. Recently, a team including nutritional scientist Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin found that chickens infected with human adenovirus Ad-37 gained a lot more fat than chickens without the virus. And just within a few weeks. This finding brings to three the number of hu,an viruses linked to increased fat, including one that a study found to be more common in obese people.

LEAH WHIGHAM (University of Wisconsin):
Since there’s over 50 human adenoviruses, there’s reason to believe that more of them could have this same effect.

Whigham says viruses likely aren’t the only cause of obesity, but these findings suggest that a vaccine could someday help stem the growing epidemic.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.