A new study found there might be a link between childhood obesity and the common cold. The results of this study should be taken as perhaps just one factor that can contribute to obesity. Why would one researcher want to push these results? A further look at the study that found a link between obesity and the common cold.
The study. A study published in the journal “Pediatrics” shows that there is an association between childhood obesity and a virus that causes the common cold. This virus is adenovirus 36 (AD36), and can cause the common cold and stomach/intestinal disturbances. During the research, a higher percentage of obese children were found to have antibodies to AD36, showing previous infections of the virus.
It is important to note that this was a small study with 124 children. Although there was a greater percentage of obese children found to have antibodies to AD36 (22 percent) compared to those who were not obese (7 percent), it does not prove the common cold virus even cause a majority of the cases of childhood obesity. It was shown, however, that obese children with antibodies to the virus were about 35 pounds heavier than obese children who did not have antibodies present.
What do the results of this study mean for the prevention of obesity? This study is interesting in its findings as if a virus is found to be one cause of obesity, it might explain the growing cases in countries where people aren’t exposed to the normal triggers, such as sedentary lifestyle and high-fat fast foods. It also shows that preventative and curative measures may be able to be developed to prevent and treat these cases of obesity.
One of the researchers, Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, admits this one study doesn’t give enough evidence to give a fat sentence to those who get the common cold from AD36. As the study showed, only 22 percent of obese children actually had the antibody present. What about the other 78 percent? Apparently their reasons for added weight were not caused by the common cold.
If any exact cure for certain cases of obesity could be developed through something like a vaccine, it could save a lot of emotional trauma from being obese, especially for children. It could save obese adults risking their health on dangerous fad diets and schemes.
Is there a push to have these results believed and acted on immediately? Why? Endocrinologist, Richard Atkinson, appears to be very excited about these results. He believes this study reinforces previous animal studies that showed AD36 caused an increase in animal weight, even without dietary and activity changes. He also notes that obesity rates begin to climb at about the same time this virus was isolated. The error in this thinking is that the virus would have caused obesity whether it was isolated or not. It would not start increasing obesity rates just because it was discovered.
It is important to note here that Richard Atkinson is the founder of a company that works with the virus AD36, Obetech. Mr. Atkinson also owns a patent for a vaccine that helps against AD36. This really could lead one to believe there are special interests involved in Mr. Atkinson backing up this study so fiercely. He also discounts studies that show no link between AD36 and obesity. He also explains that the reason some thin kids had the antibodies was because the antibodies just hadn’t caused them to get obese yet.
The link between obesity and the common cold. Although there does appear to be a link between the common cold virus AD36 and obesity, it has not been show to be the only cause or even a cause at all. There is merely an association, as the actual researchers in the study admit. Also, the researchers of the study are not the ones pushing the results to be the end all of obesity.
It would be beneficial if one cause of obesity could be pinned down and actually prevented or treated. Until more research is done, don’t count on a vaccine to prevent or treat childhood obesity. If you choose to get the vaccine, remember it only treats the common cold caused only by AD36, and not other viruses that do the same. More research is needed to prove a more causal link between obesity and the common cold.
Charles Gabbert, MD, et al.; Adenovirus 36 and Obesity in Children and Adolescents; Pediatrics
Tina Hesman Saey; Obesity in children linked to common cold virus; ScienceNews
Denise Mann; Virus May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity; Medscape Today from WebMD