It seems that every day a new study suggests another possible explanation for the childhood obesity epidemic. Just recently, researchers found that lack of sleep could be a cause. Now a new study suggests that a common cold virus may be contributing to childhood obesity, MSNBC.com reports.
Researchers at University of California, San Diego found that children who showed signs of infection with adenovirus (AD36), a common cause of colds and eye infections, weighed an average of 50 pounds more than kids with the antivirus, according to the report published in Pediatrics.
It’s not entirely clear that the virus led to obesity, however since it’s possible that obese kids are more prone to get the virus in the first place.
“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. “There are children who eat all the wrong things in all the wrong quantities who are not obese.”
Earlier research showed that the virus may cause certain changes in the body that lead to weight gain. Other studies have shown that the virus can actually change fat cells so that they store more fat or produce more fat cells. Adenoviruses can cause a variety of illnesses from sore throats to diarrhea.
To conduct the study, researchers tested 124 children, ages 8 to 18, for antibodies to AD36. Researchers found that the kids who tested positive for AD36 weighed an average of 35 pounds more than obese kids who didn’t have the virus.
But, of course, nobody is suggesting that the virus is entirely to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic. For the moment, instead of worrying that your kid may have been exposed to the virus, researchers advise parents to focus on good nutrition and exercise.