Infectobesity. A compelling reason to build the immune system.

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This terrifying youtube video contains a section on the research done by Professor Nikhil Dhurandhar (at about 4min 30secs in).  It concerns the Adenovirus which was first discovered in chickens.  It caused the infected chickens to die and  the odd thing about all these chickens is that they were fat. Research found a link between the Adenovirus they died of and their weight gain. Dr Dhurandhar wondered if this virus was present in the human population – and indeed it is12 3  He took blood samples from  a selection of obese people and 20% of them had antibodies to the virus.  This 20% were the fattest.

The virus causes either cold like symptoms, a cough, conjunctivitis or diarrhoea.  When infected with the virus goes to the lungs and from there to various organs; the liver, the kidneys, the brain for example, and ends up in body fat (which is also an organ, as it happens).  Once in the body fat it replicates itself and increases the number of fat cells.  Once a fat cell is present, it never goes away.  It can be emptied of fat by losing weight – but it will always want to be filled again.  People who had been infected with this virus are significantly fatter than those who had not been.

So even more reason to build up the immune system.  This is not saying that every cold will make us fat, nor is it saying that obese people are infectious.  The point is that a healthy immune system will make us resilient to the infections that can make us fat – hence the term infectobesity.

  1. Dhurandhar NV Infectobesity: obesity of infectious origin.  J. Nutr. Oct 1 2001 Vol 131 no 10 27945-27975 []
  2. Na H-N, Nam J-H “‘Infectobesity: a new area for microbiological and virological research”.  J Bacteriol Virol 2011 Jun; 41 (2): 65-76  Recently published research showing that chlamydia pneumoniae and gut microbiota are also associated with increased obesity. []
  3. Pachpute AP, Sharma SJ, Mathanikar DV, Suryawanshi SN. ” Association of human adenovirus (AD 36) with obesity in humans and animals: a review” Vol 6 Issue 1 Jan-Feb 2011 Article 003.  Further recent research on this virus []

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