Centers for Disease Control / Dr. G. William Gary Jr.
It could be that obese kids are just likelier to catch colds, but research suggests that adenovirus 36 may actually be rewriting fat cells in children, causing them to gain more weight.
Certainly diet and exercise are crucial factors, but researchers say their findings indicate that childhood obesity is a more complex condition than previously thought.
(Just to be clear, adenovirus is not the cause of what we call the common cold, but a common cause of colds.)—PZS
“This shows that body weight regulation and the development of obesity are very complicated issues,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, an associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego and director of Weight and Wellness at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “It’s not simply a case that some children eat too much and others don’t. There are children who eat all the wrong things in all the wrong quantities who are not obese.”
Outside experts cautioned that the new research doesn’t prove that the virus causes weight gain — it’s entirely possible that obese kids are just more likely to get the virus.
Still, earlier research with cells in petri dishes suggests that the virus may cause changes in the body that lead to weight gain. Some studies have shown that the virus can enter fat cell precursors, rewiring them to spew out more fat cells, while others have shown that the virus can modify fat cells themselves so that they store more fat.