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UTHealth awarded FEMA grant to explore novel obesity risk factor among firefighters
Date:6/16/2011

HOUSTON (June 16, 2011) Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have been awarded nearly $1 million to investigate Adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) infection as a novel risk factor for obesity. The grant is being awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s Assistance to Firefighters grant program.

The study will examine the relationship of Ad-36 to obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and will provide information to design health and wellness strategies specifically for firefighters, who are more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population.

"Knowledge of Ad-36's role would add a new dimension to the multifactorial model of obesity," said Susie Day Ph.D., principal investigator and associate professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health, a part of UTHealth. "We must understand the causes of excessive weight among firefighters and reduce their CVD risk because America depends on these 2 million individuals' responsiveness to emergencies." Day is also a nutritional epidemiologist with the UTHealth Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.

To date, the national obesity epidemic has mainly been explained as the interactions among genetics, food intake, physical activity and the environment. However, new evidence indicates a strong association between Ad-36 infection and obesity in humans and suggests that a subset of obesity may be caused by Ad-36. "We do know that Ad-36 has been found in about 30 percent of obese people compared to only 11 percent in people with normal weight," said Day. "However, even in the normal weight population, those infected with Ad-36 were heavier than those who were not infected."

Ad-36 infection, which has no known symptoms, has been associated in animal models with lower levels of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, which suggest possible implications for cardiovascular disease risk
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Contact: Jade Waddy
jade.waddy@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3307
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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