It’s beginning to look like there’s nowhere to hide from the often-referenced “obesity epidemic.” First came the news this month that friends may cause each others’ waistlines to expand, and now there’s a new study out that links excess weight, in certain cases, to a common cold-inducing virus, adenovirus-36.

AFP via

In laboratory experiments, the Louisana State University researchers found that the bug appeared to promote the formation of fat cells from stem cells.

The team took adult stem cells from fatty tissue left over from patients who had undergone liposuction, a procedure to remove fat, and exposed some of it to Ad-36, leaving the rest untreated.

After a week of growth in tissue culture, most of the virus-infected adult stem cells developed into fat cells, whereas the untreated cells did not.

It’s not clear what drives the transformation, how long the virus lingers in the human system or whether its fat-enhancing effect continues after the body has cleared the virus, the researchers said.

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