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Mayo Clinic Proceedings article explores possible link between obesity and viral infections
Date:10/23/2007

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Experts dont dispute the important role that diet and activity play in maintaining a healthy weight. But can poor eating habits and a less active lifestyle fully explain the prevalence of obesity in the United States today? That question has led some researchers to ask whether there might be other causes for this serious problem. In the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researcher Richard Atkinson, M.D., asserts that there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that viruses may play a role in causing obesity in humans.

The cause of obesity is not a secret -- if you consume more calories than you burn in daily activity, you gain weight. What is interesting is that much of the obesity epidemic cannot be explained just by Americans eating more and exercising less. There are other factors at play, and viruses causing obesity may be one of them, say Dr. Atkinson.

Dr. Atkinson, director of Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, Va., reviewed multiple published articles that demonstrate a connection between viral infections and obesity. His article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings discusses five animal viruses and three human viruses that have been shown to cause obesity in laboratory studies.

According to Dr. Atkinson, several studies offer ample evidence that animals infected with certain human viruses experience excess weight gain and fat storage. When researchers infected animal subjects with a human virus known as Human Ad-36, they reported measurable increases in the infected animals body fat and the visceral fat that surrounds the organs deep within the belly. In addition, studies also demonstrated that infection with Ad-36 and the resulting weight gain could be transmitted from infected animals to uninfected animals.

Information on virus-induced obesity in human subjects is much more limited. Citing his own study conducted in 2005, Dr. Atkinson also showed a connection between obesity and e
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Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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