Is Obesity A Virus?

“Kachoo!” could be the sound of a kid getting fat. New research shows children were 50 lbs heavier on average if they had been exposed to adenovirus 36, a virus that causes the common cold and mild stomach upset.

But before you swap your diet pills for Kleenex, be advised that it’s a classic cause of correlation vs causation. As one doctor said to Bloomberg, “Does this virus disrupt certain pathways and cause obesity? Or, do obese kids tend to have this virus more often?”

Childhood Obesity Might Be Linked to Strain of Cold Virus [Businessweek]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Macgyver says:

    Gv m fckng brk.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Here, have a Kit-Kat.

      I’ll assume your comment was the virus talking.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      Oh SNAP,

      someone’s upset…

    • DariusC says:

      Don’t you mean:

      Gv m fckng brk

    • KeithIrwin says:

      Translation: this scientific result seems unintuitive to me, so clearly it must be wrong, since my intuition is never incorrect.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Yeah, and those stupid scientists with their fancy degrees don’t know nothin’.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          I have some fancy degrees, and I can tell you that I’m very very skeptical of this paper.

          While Mac up there was a bit too– shall we say… quick to dismiss– there’s no reason why we should buy this simply because people have MDs or PhDs.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        First off, the sample was TINY with just 124 kids. Secondly, 62% of the sampled group of kids is Hispanic. This study is so far off from proving anything. What’s bad about it, is that it can be used as an excuse my individuals and families to not take healthy eating and exercise seriously.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          But this isn’t the only study to show that outside elements affect what people weigh.

          There have been others but most people here would rather just bash overweight people than read anything on the subject.

    • Brontide says:

      Thank you. This study was poorly done and at best it shows a correlation, not causation but many will cling to it as the reason they “can’t lose weight”.

      I’ll give people a hint. Barring exceptional cases it’s not the HFCS, tupperware, a virus, or school lunches. Weight is controlled by your net caloric intake, you are fat because you ate too much for your metabolism. It’s not really that complicated. People have chosen to prioritize other aspects of their life.

      • sleze69 says:


        Stop the whining about people who can eat anything they want and never get fat and just eat a little less or exercise a little more. That is what I did and I lost weight. Whenever I get over a weight I don’t like, I do it again (eat less or exercise more or both).

        It’s just math. It really is that simple.

      • Bohemian says:

        This is true. Compounding the problem is all the hidden sugar, fat and other bad things in most processed foods. Sure taking away the twinkies will help but if what seems like normal food also is loaded with crap they are still getting too much junk. There are so many savory food items that also have corn syrup in them on top of loads of fat and salt, people just don’t perceive that they are eating these things and can’t figure out why they are still fat.

      • OnePumpChump says:

        Perhaps this virus is transmitted via Ding Dongs.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Amen. People ask me all the time how I lost so much weight and if I have tips to help them do the same. My answer upsets too many people: Eat less, move more. I usually add in that when I was still really heavy I often *said* I was doing this, and even convinced myself a bit, but I had to admit I really wasn’t following through.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        And you’re stupid if you don’t realize that some people crave food so incredibly much more than others. It’s easy to say to only eat as much as you can metabolize when you’re not the one craving food so badly that you can’t think of anything else.

        • Brontide says:

          That doesn’t even come close to explaining why people of all ethnic backgrounds are fat in America vs many other industrialized countries. If these cravings are truly medical then they would present world-wide. Before people scream HFCS, it’s not linked to obesity rates in any country, including the US where it stopped even a rough correlation around 2000.

          There is a known medical condition that prevents saity in the subjects and they need to be on 100% controlled diet otherwise they would eat themselves huge. It’s also extremely rare.

    • shepd says:

      People such as yourself cause dumb shit like this to happen, delaying legitimate science. I remember watching shows where this was the new awesomeness and them explaining how difficult it was to be laughed out of journal after journal. Of course, they did earn a Nobel prize in the end, thank God.

      • sleze69 says:

        The thing is, if this virus has ANY affect on obesity, it would either be the slowing of the host’s metabolism (most likely) or the altering of hunger pains that make them equivalent to heroin withdrawal (doubtful). So there really isn’t anything new here.

        It has been repeated below numerous times that if you have a slow metabolism and want to lose weight, you have to eat less or speed up your metabolism (by exercising).

        If it really comes down to cravings, then, as it has been repeated EVERYWHERE, it comes down to willpower.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          If it really comes down to cravings, then, as it has been repeated EVERYWHERE, it comes down to willpower.

          You’re right – right now it does come down to willpower. But it would be nice if there was some kind of cure for the cravings. If scientists can find the causes of this, and if they work on finding cures, it will help so many people.

          Instead of supporting something good like this, we have assholes, like Macgyver, who, since the problem doesn’t affect them, just says stupid things like “give me a fucking break”.

          I’m fit and healthy, as are my two adult kids. My daughter’s husband and 5 year old child are fit and healthy. But her two year old daughter is heavy.

          My daughter’s family eats VERY healthy foods and the whole family and especially the kids get lots and lots of exercize. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure my granddaughter would be obese intead of just overweight.

          My granddaughter was born a little early and small, but almost immediately – within week of birth – began eating WAY more than normal. The doctors all said to let her have as much as she wanted, that she wouldn’t over eat, but that’s not the case. She was always ravenous. She still is always ravenous. So even though she eats better than proabably 95% or more of other toddlers, she is still heavy because she is always so hungry. Do you want to be the one to tell a very hungry two year old to just exercize willpower?

          So I get VERY pissed at assholes who act like there is no reason for any scientific research to be done to find the causes and cures for the problem of obesity.

          • Mythandros says:

            I used to be of the same opinion as the commenter above, but I understand and see your point.

            I am leaning more towards agreeing with you, this kind of thing needs to be studied, figured out. Living healthy isn’t as easy for some as it is for others, regardless of age.

            We should certainly put our minds collectively towards allowing as many people as possible lead healty and happy lives regardless of age, creed, color or belief. This is very important.

            +1 to your post.

      • pawnblue says:

        Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory.

        The guy taught that hand washing seemed to correlate to a lower mortality rate amongst mothers and babies in the hospital. The doctors would move directly from a corpse to a mother in labor. Seems crazy right?

        The other doctors at the time thought he was crazy too. They didn’t want to wash their hands. I mean, it was correlative, not causative, right?

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Are you really that ignorant?

      I believe you must be.

      As I’ve stated in numerous replies to stupid people on this blog, there are many causes to obesity. There have been a quite a few studies that show a number of things that appear to cause or increase weight gain. These studies have been reported in the news.

      But stupid people don’t read the news. Stupid people don’t read anything that contradicts their pathetic little view of how the world should be.

      Give me a fucking break!

      • sleze69 says:

        Please add to this list of causes of obesity that do not include what I list:

        1. Too much caloric intake for the individual’s metabolism.

  2. Cicadymn says:

    The fat community is desperately wringing its hands in anticipation of a magic pill that makes you lose weight but still eat whatever you want.

    • tomok97 says:

      Aren’t we all? That pill would be awesome. lol

    • stevenpdx says:

      Sounds great to me!

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      There is. It’s Orlistat. Technically, you can eat anything you want and lose weight. Sure you’ll spray a fine mist of colored oil from your butt 24/7, but, you know… omelet / breaking eggs…

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      Why is this so abhorrent to you? There are already many people who *can* eat whatever they want and not gain weight. We fat people understand that life isn’t fair. We just want to be able to tip the scales (so to speak) to our favor a little bit. Why do you people like you want to deny us that? Is it because you’ll have one less target to practice your hateful prejudice upon?

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Not so much one less target, but less of one target. :)

        • pastthemission says:

          I’m fat and I lol’d. I’m also one of those people who can’t eat whatever I want. Do I complain? Not really. I just eat healthy (probably better in the long run) and try do yoga and walk to school instead of driving.

      • mandy_Reeves says:

        I don’t like seeing people make themselves sick…if you take Alli or other pills, it’s only a band aid on a festering cancer. Eating smaller portions, re framing your thoughts, behavior modifactions, modest activity(walking, dancing, golf, bowling etc..) are a way to change your body permanently.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:


        I can’t believe how many people just can’t understand this.

    • dolemite says:

      Yes, yes they are. I think it’s why my wife is a member of weight watchers, buys celluloid pills (makes you feel “fuller” before a meal…if you drink 2 glasses of water with them -ha), buys Alli, wants to buy “Shapers”, etc.

      Just about anything except working out in our really nice gym in the basement.

      • MsAnthrope says:

        How lovely that your wife has such a supportive spouse. Keep up the good work.

        • obits3 says:

          dolemite does seem to do a good job showing what’s wrong with our attitude. If I can’t buy it for money, then it must not work. Walking = Free. Eating less = Free. It’s much easier for many to spend money on various things hopping for a magical cure, than it is to change one’s habits.

          I used to buy various things. they never worked. You know what really caused me to start loosing weight? I ate less food. Believe it or not, it was the one thing I had not tried, lol. I didn’t change what I ate. I just ate less.

        • RayanneGraff says:

          I’d rather have my spouse be honest with me than support me buying useless bullshit placebos instead of just getting off my fat ass & exercising. You’d rather be lied to? That’s wierd.

      • Captaffy says:

        I think you should look in to whether your wife is getting ripped off. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal will have that effect, so I suspect she is downing a placebo.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      Um…me and my 100 pound weight loss would like to disagree with you all…I have been on weight watchers since feb 2009, and just celebrated losing 100 pounds this past Saturday. I CAN eat what I want, but within moderation, as long as I follow the Good Healthy Guidelines( 5 servings fruit/veg 2 servings dairy, 2 tsp evoo and 2 proteins) and stick with my points.

      The pills do not work, ALli makes your butt leak…everything else is a diet. Weight Watchers is a lifestyle change.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        That’s great! I’m very happy for you.

        But how many people in your weight watchers group are there for the second or third time?

        Probably some are, because it’s almost impossible to keep the weight off if you stop attending meetings and if you stop writing down (tracking) everything you eat.

        So you will have to do this for the rest of your life.

        Most non-fat people – the ones who’ve never been overweight – don’t have to do this. They just naturally find it easy to eat the right amount of calories for their weight.

        So -what causes some people to naturally want many more calories than their bodies need, whil others are able to eat the right amount of calories without much thought or effort?

        Something causes this.

        I’d like to see more and more research into this, and hopefully a cure, so that someday everyone will be able to just naturally eat the right amount and not have to “track” their food intake daily for the rest of their lives.

      • amgriffin says:

        Weight watchers is a diet. Five years from now you’ll look back on your post and shake your head.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I think the fat community would like to not feel like they’re starving all the time.

      All the skinnys in the world seem to think that everyone is the same, or could be the same.

      Except that all the skinny people I know are almost never hungry and never have deep, driving cravings for fattening food. All the overweight people I know crave food so bad.

      It’s easy to say “just don’t eat it” when you’re not the one craving it so bad that it’s making you crazy.

  3. crazydavythe1st says:

    I’d say it’s absolutely possible. Obesity is really a combination of hundreds of factors with diet being the most important. Everyone wants to make it a black and white issue, but it isn’t.

    • Vivienne says:

      No, obesity is the result of consuming more calories than you burn. End of story. There can be a lot of confounding reason WHY people eat more than they need to, but that is all it is.

  4. RxDude says:

    Cue Denis Leary.

    • elganador says:

      Why? Do you feel the need to buy a Ford truck all of a sudden?

      • RxDude says:

        Paraphrasing here, but he has a bit that goes something like this:

        Now people are saying obesity is caused by a virus. Right. Every other virus make you waste away, but you just happened to get the one that makes you fat. ‘I’m not overeating, I’m keeping the virus at bay. Nomnom nom…’

        • Mythandros says:

          Dennis Leary is a cynical ass.

          Quoting his words as gospel (as you seem to be doing) is tantamount to saying “I’ll believe what he tells me because I like it, not because it’s true.”

          Just because he says it, doesn’t mean he’s right. And it certainly doesn’t make YOU right when you quote him either.

          He’s a funny cynical ass, but still a cynical ass.

    • nrich239 says:

      “I’m the enemy, ’cause I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech, and freedom of choice. I’m the kinda guy that likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecue ribs with the side-order of gravy fries?” I want high cholesterol! I wanna eat bacon, and butter, and buckets of cheese, okay?! I wanna smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section! I wanna run naked through the street, with green Jell-O all over my body, reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly may feel the need to, okay, pal?”

  5. apd09 says:

    Something about this really bothers me,
    The study included, 124 children between the ages of 8 and 18. Sixty-two percent of the children were Hispanic, 27 percent were white and 11 percent were black. Fifty-six percent were male. More than half of the children — 67 — were considered obese based on their body-mass measurements for their age and gender.

    then I clicked the link For more on the known causes of obesity, read this information from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and it said the following,

    Our environment doesn’t support healthy lifestyle habits; in fact, it encourages obesity. Some reasons include:

    * Lack of neighborhood sidewalks and safe places for recreation. Not having area parks, trails, sidewalks, and affordable gyms makes it hard for people to be physically active.
    * Work schedules. People often say that they don’t have time to be physically active because of long work hours and time spent commuting.
    * Oversized food portions. Americans are surrounded by huge food portions in restaurants, fast food places, gas stations, movie theaters, supermarkets, and even home. Some of these meals and snacks can feed two or more people. Eating large portions means too much energy IN. Over time, this will cause weight gain if it isn’t balanced with physical activity.
    * Lack of access to healthy foods. Some people don’t live in neighborhoods that have supermarkets that sell healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, for some people, these healthy foods are too costly.
    * Food advertising. Americans are surrounded by ads from food companies. Often children are the targets of advertising for high-calorie, high-fat snacks and sugary drinks. The goal of these ads is to sway people to buy these high-calorie foods, and often they do.

    I think the big piece of evidence missing for me is what was the median income of these kids families, because if it is comprised 73% of hispanic and black than probably means lower income areas where once again the regular issues of diet and access to playgrounds play a major factor but also more exposure to germs and viruses. Something about this survey does not really sit well with me with if those were the types of children they decided to use because they obviously did it for a reason.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      Great call. That sample isn’t representative of the population AT ALL.

    • andyg8180 says:

      BMI is also a horrible respresentaion of “fat-ness” since BMI was never intended to determine obesity. It was meant for a whole different beast. Even the originator of BMI said it… Its like scientology.

      • obits3 says:

        I think that BMI – Buy More Insurance. Insurance companies want to use this metric as an excuse to charge higher premiums.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If you take into account the dramatic increase of hispanic population, I would say the percentages are pretty close. Certainly close enough to not skew the results.

      • apd09 says:

        I don’t know if I am willing to believe that in 10 years it went from 12.5% hispanic to 62%

        # 75.1% of respondents said they were White or Caucasian and no other race;
        # 21.36% (60 million Americans) are of German descent; German Americans
        # 12.3% are of Black or African American descent;
        # Hispanics (who may belong to any race) accounted for 12.5% of the U.S. population, up from 9% in 1990;

        but regardless of the actual numbers it is still using what seems to be low income type of neighborhoods where the children are already predisposed to more germs and virus, have less availability to healthy foods, and get little to no exercise because there are no public playgrounds for them to go to. That was my original point, I don’t know if there is a correlation or not but it is hard to prove something like that when there are so many additional factors that subset of the population is already predisposed to. So I would like to see what the income of the families was and if it had anything to do with location of people because of the environment they are in.

        • BettyCrocker says:

          Are there more germs that collect in low income places or something? Or do you consider people that don’t make as much as you dirty?

          • apd09 says:

            jeez, you are ridiculous. Yes I think everyone who does not make as much as me is dirty, I also think that people who live in poorer neighborhoods also probably live in housing communities where there are more people than the immediate family whom you cook meals for BettyCrocker. How many people live in the immediate vicinity of you, do you live in a building with 200+ other people who touch things that you touch everyday.

            My point is that lower income people are exposed to many of things that we who do not live in those areas are not. You on the other hand seem to be more than happy to say I am wrong about this without giving any type of info to back you up.

    • Willnet says:

      I don’t get how produce is expensive. It can be expensive but doesn’t have to be. A thing of celery is like $2. A 10 pound bag of potatoes is around $2.50. Chop some of it up, cook a chicken, make chicken stock/broth chop the chicken up, mix all together and make soup. Dinner for 20 for under 8 dollars. For “cheap” nights (under a dollar) cook some rice and beans with chili powder. Add some sausage for a treat. If the kids don’t like it tell them to eat or they won’t get anything for dinner. Bananas are around 44 cents a pound.

      • apd09 says:

        I completely agree with you, I do that all the time. The problem with grocery shopping is with people who do not have a car and they cannot get everything they may want to at the store. If you have to take the bus you cannot buy a lot of things. Not saying it is an excuse for the poor diet of people but in the city it is hard to get to the grocery store and buy 100.00 worth of food to feed you family because you can’t get it all back home.

      • BarbiCat says:

        Your experience or local prices do not equal the norm. Many people who live in food deserts literally do NOT have access to grocery stores. They can either find transportation to a market which might be miles away, or they might only have access to corner stores/’gas station’ markets that generally do not have produce, or extremely mark up what they do carry.

        I’m sorry you can’t wrap your head around the fact that yeah, produce might be cheap in YOUR area, but some people CAN’T BUY IT.

  6. ihatephonecompanies says:

    In other news…. 1000000 lbs of Doritos were recalled because of possible adenovirus 36 contamination…

  7. one swell foop says:

    Being fat is a lifestyle choice. Sadly, for children, it’s not a choice they necessarily get to make for themselves. Once they grow up though, they get no pity from me. A healthy diet and exercise work, period.

    • dwtomek says:

      Not when there are viruses out there just WAITING to make you fat! But seriously yeah I agree with you here.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Except it’s not a lifechoice when your parents teach you bad habits from birth.

      You are basically forced into a lifestyle – the one your parents choose for you – until you leave for college or whatever. Except you’ve lived a certain way for near two decades, and research says it says twice as long to unlearn something as it does to learn it. That means it could take you 36 years to unlearn those habits. So fat people won’t learn how to be healthy until they are 54 years old. By that time it’s far too late.

    • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

      I guess like being a total dick is a lifestyle choice, right? Yu weren’t just raised that way. ;-)

    • unchainedmuse says:

      Being fat is not a lifestyle choice. You make it sound a lot more black & white than it really is. There are so many factors that come into play – metabolism, physical ability to exercise, psychological reasons for overeating, and how we were raised.

      Sure, there are steps that can be taken. I had gastric bypass surgery to lose 150 lbs. As slim as I am, I will never EVER assume that being overweight is a choice made by slovenly people who honestly don’t give a damn about how they look or feel. Prejudice against fat people is still legal and, frankly, it sucks.

      • MauriceCallidice says:

        Eat fewer calories than you burn. You will lose weight. It’s a lifestyle choice.

        I’m obese. I should eat less, or exercise more. Probably both.

        I choose not to, which isn’t the best choice, but it’s my choice to make.

        I like food. I dislike exercise. I don’t like feeling hungry.

        So I make my choices, and have to live with them (and perhaps die prematurely from them).

      • pastthemission says:

        by having the surgery you made a huge lifestyle change. By lifestyle I’m pretty sure he meant all the things you mention. It’s not just eating healthy for a day or exercising a bit, it’s really a radical overhaul that’s necessary. Also, good for you for losing 150 lbs.

    • code65536 says:

      Oh no, it’s not. I don’t really watch what I eat and eat as much as I want. And as a programmer, I am mostly sedentary. Yet I’m skinny as a twig. Not that I have a totally bad lifestyle–I don’t eat out that often, for example, but I don’t put any effort into it, and I’ve seen people who do put real effort into it, who eat less than me and who are more active gain weight while I’ve held steady between 105 and 115 pounds for years and years. There’s more to it than lifestyle, and I suspect genetics are involved somewhere too since my entire family’s thin (and they don’t put effort into it either).

  8. crabbygeek says:


  9. ChuckECheese says:

    Children are so fat these days. Can’t we make money off that?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Your username + your comment = awesomeness.

      That said, I applaud Chuck-E-Cheese for at least giving kids a safe area to run around like idiots. Plus, heh, single moms. Giggidy.

  10. grapedog says:

    if by “caused by a virus” you mean the child has lazy ass parents… then maybe you’re correct.

    • wren337 says:

      wouldn’t it be funny if all you thin, smug basterds turned out to have just not caught some bug, and you were never on a level playing field with the people you make fun of.

      • Sumtron5000 says:

        I’m skinny (we really shouldn’t be using the word skinny, I’m guilty of it, but let’s replace it with healthy) because I eat well and exercise. Not because I haven’t caught some bug.

        If people really are obese because of this virus, wouldn’t there be huge discoveries based on the fact that some people are burning way more calories than they are consuming and still gaining weight? Unless they aren’t doing that, in which case, how can anyone blame a virus for their weight?

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          To begin with – being thin or skinny does NOT mean healthy. Lots of thinner people are no healthier than overweight people. So, NO, will will not call you healthy just because you’re not overweight.

          Secondly – There HAVE been studies done that show various elements that affect people’s weight. There are two basic problems. One is that people have slow metabolisms and DON’T burn enough calories, so even if they’re not eating that much, they’re still gaining weight. The other is that they crave food so much that they ARE eating more than the “skinnys” of the world.

          Until you’ve felt like you’re starving, even when you’ve had all the calories your body needs for the day, then don’t say “just don’t eat that much”. You’ve no idea how badly a person can feel like they need food.

          Well, actually you can. Do this: Don’t eat for two days. Toward the end of the second day, tell me how badly you want food. Then imagine feeling this way almost all the time.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Exactly what wren said.

  11. EarthAngel says:

    I caught my fat. Went to bed one night, next morning woke up looking like this.

    True story.

  12. Outrun1986 says:

    The parents definitely have a role in this, since a child usually cannot make good choices about food on their own. They are often too young to be educated about food choices and if the parents are buying nothing but garbage processed foods and that is all that is in the house then the kid often doesn’t have a choice but to eat that. You can’t instantly expect that a kid knows about healthy food from the day they are born.

    There has to be someone teaching them the right way to eat and reinforcing that. Instead we teach them to eat healthy in school and we ship them off to the cafeteria which serves fried chicken nuggets and french fries (way to reinforce what a kid has just learned there).

    Over here I see parent after parent feeding nothing but garbage foods to their kids (can we even call it food??), taking their kids out to eat and feeding them huge portions and feeding them nothing but bags of chips, other bad for you snacks and soda and of course fast food. Hungry, here is a bag of cheetos and a package of hostess cupcakes… Hungry ok lets go out to eat… I don’t see any kids eating healthy, none. Some of these kids probably don’t even know what a fruit or a vegetable is, all they know is food comes from snack bags or the freezer and goes right into the microwave then it becomes edible. I have no problem with the occasional treat but the problem is, is that the occasional treat has become the main course for every meal. Its a real problem.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      That’s not the case with all overweight children.

      I posted this up above, but I’m going to repost it here:

      My daughter’s husband and 5 year old child are fit and healthy. But her two year old daughter is heavy.

      My daughter’s family eats VERY healthy foods and the whole family and especially the kids get lots and lots of exercize. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure my granddaughter would be obese intead of just overweight.

      My granddaughter was born a little early and small, but almost immediately – within week of birth – began eating WAY more than normal. The doctors all said to let her have as much as she wanted, that she wouldn’t over eat, but that’s not the case. She was always ravenous. She still is always ravenous. So even though she eats better than proabably 95% or more of other toddlers, she is still heavy because she is always so hungry. Do you want to be the one to tell a very hungry two year old to just exercize willpower?

      • Outrun1986 says:

        This wouldn’t apply to you since you obviously don’t feed your kid garbage food, I am referring here to parents that feed their 2 year old McDonalds when they cry for food, it happens all the time here, as soon as kids can mouth or chew fast food, it gets fed to them. As long as you are feeding them decent stuff I don’t see an issue with feeding a 2 year old, they have to eat as well.

  13. Beeker26 says:

    More ridiculousness. Seriously, if you are a healthy active kid you’re going to have a better immune system. If you’re a lazy fat kid who shovels junk food down his throat and never gets off the couch you’re going to get sick more often. This ain’t rocket science here people.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Its so true, when I was eating junk food, I got sick at least once every year or more. Now that I am eating more fruits and vegetables and healthier foods I haven’t been sick with a cold or flu since. That does not mean I won’t get one, but it has significantly reduced the amount of illnesses I have experienced.

    • obits3 says:

      How dare you imply that people take personal responsibility. It it the virus’s fault. Now if only we could manufacture a vaccine made from baby carrots…

    • jason in boston says:

      You and your logic have no business here.

  14. Kid Notorious says:


    *sniff sniff* Sorry… I’m allergic to bullshit…

  15. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I was often sick as a kid with this weird stomach virus and sore throats. I was also a bean pole. It wasn’t until after my sophomore year of high school that I started to gain weight after a tragic experience. I lost it again after college when I had a job I loved and was happy. When I lost that job, back came the pounds.

    At least in my case, my weight has been tied to mental illness, not physical.

  16. EarthAngel says:

    “What Schwimmer does hope the findings will do is get people to ‘move away from assigning blame, and broaden the way we think about obesity””

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    “‘Currently, there’s a somewhat simplistic belief that obesity is just a person’s own fault, or in the case of children, the fault of the family. But, that’s an overly simplistic view, and it’s not helpful,’ he said.”

    Ya don’t say…

    • Mythandros says:

      Wow, some reason and intelligence.

      Amazing, considering some of the blatant dumbasses posting on this site.

  17. mmmsoap says:

    It’s not about finding a “cure” for obesity. We clearly know what causes obesity (calories intake > calories output) but it’s about treatment and prevention.

    Most people are at the top of a slippery slope in terms of their weight, and it takes some work to cling to the weight they currently are, without letting it drift upwards. They do it by making healthy food choices, and consciously ignoring the unhealthy food messages being bombarded from all sides. THey do it by exercising, after spending much of the day sitting behind a desk or a steering wheel. (If you do it effortlessly, good for you, but recognize you’re in the minority.)

    This study is about the ability to know which people are standing at the top of that slope, in a puddle of oil while wearing roller skates. Certainly won’t make the climb back up any easier, but predicting can maybe help people avoid the trip down in the first place.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      What about all of the super thin people who cram their mouths with junk all day and sit on their asses? If the formula is so simple, why aren’t those people fat???

      • mmmsoap says:

        I don’t think it has anything to do with “the formula” being “simple” because it certainly doesn’t appear to be simple at all. But those super thin people who can eat whatever they want are certainly lucky, and I would love to know more about what’s different between their biology and other people’s (including my own). If a virus is a contributing factor, that’s very interesting information. Don’t know if that can/will be translated into something that helps me but more info is rarely a bad thing.

  18. theirishscion says:

    Ok, I don’t comment here much, but I do feel compelled to point out some recent personal experience.

    I’m Irish (whodathunkit) but I’ve been living in the US for a little over 10 years now. I live in Texas, a warm part of the country where we don’t get many winter colds. It’s actually one of the things that I love about the South, I don’t spend all winter sniffling.

    However, I come from the South of Ireland, about the most snuffles-infested corner of the damn planet; my entire childhood was spent with my peers mutually sneezing at each other through horribly clogged little red noses. The standard Irish winter cold extends from August to April each year, with at least one dose of the ‘oh god I’m going to die’ flu thrown in for good measure around the middle of winter.

    Now, as anyone who’s hung around in Texas for a while, and then gone to visit, well, anywhere in Europe really, will tell you, we’re fat and they’re thin, give or take. For the first couple of days we spend back in Cork on the Annual Pilgrimage to Mum’s House, it feels like the general population is borderline malnourished. Then we realize, we’re just really fat. We don’t feel that fat. We blend in with the population back in Texas, but in Ireland, we’re that awful cliche; the fat American tourist.

    So, if there’s a serious connection between cold viruses and obesity, it’s well disguised by something in this context. I should point out, the Irish do _not_ eat some healthy Mediterranean diet full of olive oil and fresh leafy greens. They eat potatoes, eggs, bacon, bread, anything fried, massive amounts of every conceivable dairy product. They really do drink like fish as well. However, they do seem to eat a lot less and walk a lot more, and none of the food contains HFCS. I don’t know if that’s relevant or not. I do know that when I moved here at 24, whilst not skinny I was not obese. I most certainly am now though, on paper at least, despite watching my diet and exercising a fair bit. I am of course ten years older so that particular bit of anecdote is fairly meaningless.

    tl;dr – I don’t have much if any faith in this study, it smacks of reinventing a wheel we already know all about. I’m fat because I eat too much, and I don’t exercise enough. Simple as that. When I eat less and exercise more, I get less fat (to the tune of 30lbs in the last couple of years, with another 50lbs to go)

    I’ve yet to meet someone who at less and exercised more and failed to lose weight. I’m pretty sure medical science would be very interested to find someone like that.

    • baquwards says:

      A friend married a girl in Ireland. He finally got her papers in order and brought her to the states. She was thin, but didn’t eat like a bird. This girl ate what seemed like more than me, we went out for breakfast and she had pancakes, ham, and biscuits, she ate them all. We talked about cooking, and her adjustment to American flours, and measurements. This girl ate cheese, bread, eggs and such on a daily basis. What was fascinating was the lack of processed foods in her diet, most of what she ate, she cooked at home. That’s not saying that she never ate processed foods, it is just that they were not the staple of her diet. That is when a light bulb went on in my head! I now eat more like her, i don’t obsess about carbs, calories etc, I just try to keep my food as “real” as conveniently possible, and I have shed close to 60lbs. over the last year.

      • jason in boston says:

        I think that is a huge point. If you make most of your food yourself, then it is possible to eat “a lot” of food but still have a healthy caloric intake. That, and hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week. Most every of the “huge” guys I would talk to in the military said that the gym was the easy part. The hard part, for them, was eating right.

      • theirishscion says:

        Right, I bought and read In Defense Of Food, the 2nd Michael Pollan book on the topic, and it rang very true. We never really ate much that was processed when I was growing up. Lots of vegetables though, and very little meat. The protein to go with a meal could easily be a bit of cheese or a fried egg rather than meat.

        To be honest, most of my weight loss seems to have come from moving my calories into the middle of the day and eating lighter at night. I already eschew processed foods as much as I can (though fuck me, it’s hard to find real bread in this country) but I also eat out a lot and portion sizes in Texas are No Friend Of The Plump. When I’m behaving myself, I eat half and take half home. I don’t behave myself very much though.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I really think its the HFCS. I think its a major contributing factor, however yes, there are many other causes as well. If you are eating a diet full of HFCS and switch to foods without it, you will most likely lose at least some weight from just that change alone. Getting off HFCS will also lead you to make healthier food choices automatically if you limit yourself to only foods that have no HFCS. If you add exercise to this you will lose even more weight.

      Its not even the potatoes, bacon or beer, but the fact that a lot of Americans are eating out of the freezer section, snack bags and dessert pouches for entire meals and doing this day after day after day. These people don’t even touch a potato or a glass of milk, its regular soda, chips, TV dinners, burritos, chicken nuggets and pizza out of the frozen section. I have been to houses where that was the entire stock of food in the house, if it can’t be microwaved some houses don’t have it. Our bread is also full of HFCS, there are alternatives to HFCS filled bread, but you have to seek them out like a needle in a haystack and there is usually only one or 2 brands of HFCS free bread at most stores here in the US. Sometimes bakery bread contains HFCS too.

      The problem is, is that the most common staple foods are becoming infected with HFCS, and it really is in everything so its impossible to have it in moderation, because its everywhere. Combine this with the consumption of 3 meals of large portions of processed food a day (which is what a lot of adults and kids are consuming here) and you have a recipe for obesity and gaining weight.

      • theirishscion says:

        Ordinarily, the HFCS argument would fall afoul of my ‘too simplistic/good to be true’ filter, but it really does seem to hold some water.

        I get the impression that it’s less to do with the way the body metabolizes the stuff than it has to do with failure to signal satiety to the brain. Drink a can of (beet sugar sweetened) coke in Ireland and you’ll feel pretty full of coke. Drink a liter of the HFCS stuff here and you’ll feel a similar level of fullness, based on my experiences anyway. I have no idea what the mechanism is, and again my anecdotal experience is fairly meaningless, but whenever I test the theory back in Ireland, it seems to hold true.

    • Brontide says:

      HFCS is the sacrificial lamb, it does not cause or contribute to obesity vs any other sugar product of similar calories.

  19. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Yes, it’s a horrible virus, that forces me to drink a 12 pack of beer every night!

  20. jason in boston says:

    No. It’s more calories going in than calories going out.

  21. GuidedByLemons says:

    Obesity is heavily influenced by endocrine factors that affect appetite, and a virus could certainly have significant effects on the endocrine system, so this is at least plausible on its face. Certainly it needs further study.

    To those who deride the obese and dismiss being fat as a lifestyle choice, please take note:

    While it’s true that (almost) anyone can attain a healthy level of body fat given proper diet in exercise, there is massive variance in how easy it is for different people to maintain a negative or neutral energy balance. There are legitimate differences in metabolism, but that’s only a small part of the story. Appetite is the most important factor. If you have always been skinny, and it’s always been easy for you to say skinny, great for you. But do realize that some people are wired to physically desire more food than they need to maintain their weight.

    I say this as someone who has lost over 200 pounds in the last few years through self-directed diet and exercise. I don’t excuse the obese or have any patience for the excuses they make. But if you’ve never been fat, and your natural appetite has never encouraged you to gain weight, that doesn’t make you a better person than somebody who has to make a concerted effort on a daily basis to avoid gaining weight because their appetite is stronger than yours.

    • rpm773 says:

      This was an excellent comment.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Thank you for posting your comment.

      It was very well written. I get so mad by all the ignorant comments from stupid people here that I just want to smack the people and I don’t take the time to write well thought out responses like yours.

  22. Groanan says:

    If the comments above are a good indication, the food companies have done a bang-up job convincing everyone that if there is something wrong with their bodies, be it obesity, cancer, or diabetes, that it is their own fault for misusing the products as they are sold.

    In reality, however, the food companies push everyone to misuse the products they sale, by intentionally making products that do not make you full, or which are blatantly unhealthy for anyone to eat if anyone actually ate more than the “recommended serving” which is a tiny fraction of what is needed to fill one’s belly based on what their brain thinks they have ate.

    Exercise can only go so far when you are living off of a high sugar high salt diet, and the majority of items sold at the grocery store, organic or not (organic sugar is still sugar)(freshly squeezed orange juice is still sugar), makes you pay with your health for even the slightest flavor additives (like ketchup).

    So unless you are blessed with a great genetic predisposition for eating junk and not gaining weight or having a heart attack, you have to have the free time and financial ability to buy raw products, and you have to live without the tastes that have been drilled into you repeatedly since you were a child.

    As far as the virus, it sounds a lot more plausible that the obese kids were on the path to obesity before they got the virus based on their genetics and what they eat, and that those some factors made them more susceptible to illness.

    The FDA should force companies that label things as “food” to not be things designed not to fill you up, and which are low in fiber. Everything that is not “food” should be called something else and clearly marked.

    • cromartie says:


      While I don’t buy the study for a minute, and think that the headline was purposely misleading to get page views, (this is obviously correlation/causation and the headline should have said so) there’s more than an element of truth to this.

      The rise to dominance of HFCS food in our society nicely coincides with the rise in obesity in our country. I would imagine the same goes for portion size in take away foods, what constitutes a medium Burger King Soda today was an XL in 1980.

      The lack of availability of grocery stores in our city centers where those perhaps most in need of them is well documented (Detroit has no grocery store chains located within the city since the closure of Farmer Jack), and what is available is often very unhealthy. The neighborhood grocery store with a diversity of healthy food offerings has simply ceased to be a workable business model in lower class neighborhoods.

      The rise in two parent households since 1977 has lead to a decline in meals originating from within the home or “home cooked” in the pre-microwave era sense.

      Genetics, in addition to environment, play a role in this as well. Some people are pre-disposed to carry more weight, and in a different way, than others.

      The factors go on an on, and the holier than thou idiots that say “get off your fat ass and exercise” are roughly as useful as tits on a boar on the issue.

      Genetics + bad parenting + bad lifestyle +excess portions at increasingly cheaper prices + sporadic availability of non HFCS based foods + HFCS+ poor education on food related issues+ pervasive advertising of unhealthy foods, particularly but not exclusively to children = epidemic that takes more than “get off your couch and exercise” to overcome

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        While I don’t buy the study for a minute,

        Why? Do you think that they’re lying? What about the study is false?

        and think that the headline was purposely misleading to get page views

        Well, when the headline is all anybody ever reads, why not?

  23. exconsumer says:

    Well, shame on the majority of you. Someone observes a relationship between this virus and obesity and it’s met with ignorant remarks about willpower.

    ‘But what about all my common-sense-hardline-fatbashing wisdom on what makes me skinny (and therefore a better person than all those fatties?!?’

    . . . Well, if there is a connection, you’d be wrong about some of that, wouldn’t you?

  24. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Great. One more excuse for people to abuse, shun, and discriminate. Treating overweight people like sh*t is the last universally tolerated form of abuse. Now school bullies will have another weapon at their disposal. “Get away from me, fatty! I don’t want to catch your DISEASE!!!!” That just perfect.

  25. Mr.Grieves says:

    Ever watch a 20 year old episode of COPS, and then watch a recent one?

    It’s quite amazing, everyone is skinny in the old one and now everyone is fat in the new one. Yeah, 20 years of cheap fast food goes a long way..

  26. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Can’t wait for all of the non-scientist fat haters to talk about what BS this is with absolutely zero proof that it isn’t true. Fat haters will look for any possible reason why every fat person makes themselves fat while they sit on the sidelines thin as a rail eating their Snickers and bags of Lay’s.

  27. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Feeling crappy -> Less exercise -> Fat even compared to other fat kids? (Is adenovirus 26 worse than other cold bugs maybe? Tend to come back more often and/or hit harder?)
    Obesity -> Weaker immune system -> Getting virus that less obese and non-obese kids don’t?

    Either way (or some other way entirely) no one said the virus caused the weight gain directly so I don’t understand the EPICRAGE going on in the comments.

  28. RayanneGraff says:

    I’ve found the secret cause of obesity, everyone gather in close & I’ll whisper it in your ears…

    *eating too much*

  29. CookiePuss says:

    Maybe their 50lbs fatter(yes, fatter–not heavier) because they ate all the adenovirus 36? It’s all about portion control kids. Cut back on the adenovirus 36 and fill yourself up on carrots that grow in vending machines.


    Dr. Cookiepuss III

  30. The_IT_Crone says:

    Maybe it needs fat cells to survive, and it just looks for the longest meal.

  31. buddyedgewood says:

    Yeah, it’s a virus that causes the host to over consume McD’s, BK, Pringles, Coke, and other crap food products in huge quantities.

    Want to prevent your kid from becoming obese? Feed them correctly and stop relying on fast food places to feed your kid.

    It’s really that simple!

    Bad eating habits start at an early age…

  32. daveinva says:

    Okay, allow me to play the contrarian here and agree that there *could be* something to this study.

    As recently as 30 years ago, society was convinced, *absolutely convinced* that stomach ulcers were caused by environmental factors. Bad food, bad habits, lots of stress, etc. The best we could do to treat it was throw some pain medication and Alka-Seltzer its way.

    Then, scientists discovered H. Pylori, and voila, we have a bacteriological explanation for many stomach ulcers.

    Cervical cancer? Same deal– HPV. A cancer caused by a virus, who woulda thunk it?

    We all know that if you eat too much and exercise too little, you get fat. No one disputes this.

    But how come there are so many people who eat too much and exercise too little and DON’T get very fat? Or, conversely, fat people who eat very little and exercise a lot but just can’t shed all that many pounds? What explains the exceptions to the rule?

    A virus could be at fault in some, or even many, cases. A virus that may have been around for a long time, but only mutated in recent decades, thus explaining the increase in obesity. Of course, the fact that Western nations, the U.S. in particular, appears to be most affected probably means that it *isn’t* this sort of explanation… but then again, genetics could play a part in this. Just as non-Westerners have trouble digesting cow’s milk, perhaps Westerners are affected more by this hypothetical virus.

    Anyway, as long as the research isn’t harming anyone or anything, I say pursue it. It’ll probably mean nothing, but it might surprise us, just as those before us were surprised by H. Pylori, HPV, and the like.

  33. Number Five Is Alive says:

    Sadly, when it comes to actually understanding the factors involved in how a fat person got to be a fat person, many of us are quick to judge, especially here in America where ignorance is king (and those of you who think it is not can probably be lumped into the ignorant pile). Like anything, upbringing and surrounding influence while growing up are going to be the key deciding factors. Without properly educating people to all the factors, people will continue to grow up fat.

    THANKFULLY, there is hope. Information is power, and in this Internet age, more and more people are taking responsibility to educate themselves. I personally may have been raised fat, but I am no longer nor will my children be. I can guarantee this because I know as a parent I can control their immediate environment and have tremendous influence over the choices they make, as well as their initial food choices which is of prime importance. Having them appreciate the taste of good healthy food is not that difficult if they never know the taste of unhealthy food. I will make it my personal mission to make sure they think and believe that the majority of fast food (including microwaved crap) tastes like absolute garbage, and stuff like chicken, fish, and vegetables taste like the kingdom of heaven.

    I took responsibility for myself, and I will take responsibility for my children. This attitude was adopted through personal experience, and I will not repeat history. I may not be able to snap my fingers, and I know no matter how many times I type these kinds of messages, many people will not get it simply due to a lack of information as well as a lack of a attitude to educate themselves. I cannot help those people. But I can help my family and that is the most important thing, and for that, I thank God.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Very good post.

      You are not an ignorant buffoon like a lot of the commenters here are.

      But – I do want to repost this comment I made elsewhere in the thread:

      “I’m fit and healthy, as are my two adult kids. My daughter’s husband and 5 year old child are fit and healthy. But her two year old daughter is heavy.

      My daughter’s family eats VERY healthy foods and the whole family and especially the kids get lots and lots of exercize. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure my granddaughter would be obese intead of just overweight.

      My granddaughter was born a little early and small, but almost immediately – within week of birth – began eating WAY more than normal. The doctors all said to let her have as much as she wanted, that she wouldn’t over eat, but that’s not the case. She was always ravenous. She still is always ravenous. So even though she eats better than proabably 95% or more of other toddlers, she is still heavy because she is always so hungry. Do you want to be the one to tell a very hungry two year old to just exercize willpower?”

      My daughter is doing everything she can to make sure both kids, but especially the 2 year old get lots and lots of exercize. The children both run and climb and play all the time. They also eat healthy foods that my daughter provides. But my daughter CANNOT control how hungry the two year old is.

      That’s one reason why more research is important. Something is causing my granddaughter to be so hungry.

  34. eturowski says:

    If obesity is a virus, then surely the vector it is transmitted by is corn sugar.

  35. Pandrogas says:

    What’s surprising here is that a news story from a couple years ago is making the rounds again. We know about the AD-36 virus already and have a good idea of how it works. Why they are quoting a doctor who is shooting form the hip with his answer instead of finding the scientist who discovered it is beyond me.

    Conclusion: The article and study are publicity stunts.

    No mention of other research is included, nor the ban on human testing to gauge the exact nature of the virus effects (ethics conundrum), nor the mention that not everyone infected with the virus has the same effects.

    They did a sham study to drum up support and scare people.

  36. EcPercy says:

    Um… NO, absolutely not. You choose to sit around eating and not focusing on your health. Obesity doesn’t just suddenly happen… As for the kids that are growing up obese. It’s because of our technology. Kids are more likely to sit around on their computer or playing video games rather than get out of the house and play. I seriously doubt that some cold virus would cause a weight difference of 50lbs in a person.

    • Groanan says:

      1975 – High Fructose Corn Syrup was added in large quantities to processed foods in America in response to our fight to reduce fat (and because it didn’t exist until 1966, and the stuff is sweet).

      The American diet drastically changed and we got drastically fatter.
      Sugar (at least fructose) is bad for you in the quantities added to just about everything sold in the grocery store that isn’t raw.
      No other society in the history of the world has consumed as much fructose sugar as we are consuming today.

      So yeah, we exercise less, but we are also consuming large amounts of poison, and if we were not, we’d probably be doing alright (considering that we are consuming a lot less fat than we were generations ago).

      I think it is more practical to change the diet than change to a lifestyle that requires an hour of exercise every other day.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I love when people blame the obesity epidemic on video games and TV. Its just a scapegoat. In Japan kids play 3 times as many video games as American’s and I don’t see massive amounts of children over there becoming obese. Kids in other countries play video games too and watch TV and there aren’t massive amounts of them getting obese. Video games have been around since the 1980’s and kids sat and played them just as much back then as they do now, this is not anything new, its been going on for 20-30 years.

      Take away the video games, computer and TV and the kids will just sit and read a book (this is the same sitting they would do while playing video games or on the computer), plus they will be behind in class, have no friends and be the social outcast because their parents are the only ones that don’t allow these things. They will be behind in school because computer skills are required at a very young age now and you need those skills to get decent grades and get through school. Bad computer skills would also mean more difficulty finding a job later in life since every job nowadays requires computer skills.

  37. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Are you really that ignorant?

    I believe you must be.

    As I’ve stated in numerous replies to stupid people on this blog, there are many causes to obesity. There have been a quite a few studies that show a number of things that appear to cause or increase weight gain. These studies have been reported in the news.

    But stupid people don’t read the news. Stupid people don’t read anything that contradicts their pathetic little view of how the world should be.

    Give me a fucking break!

  38. RandomHookup says:

    It’s not really a virus…I’m just allergic to skinny.

  39. mischlep says:

    NPR had a story about this a couple years ago:
    Gut Bacteria May Cause and Cure Disease, Obesity

  40. Kingeryck says:

    Maybe fatties just have crappy immune systems.

  41. BarbiCat says:

    Wow, I literally do not think I could dislike most of the comments here more. It’s just not possible.

    The sickening amount of privileged, classist crap that is spewing from some of you is just unbelievable. I’m glad none of you are fat. Or poor. Or have health problems. Or live in an area where you have no access to grocery stores that carry produce. Clearly, if we could just live like you guys, everything would be ggrreeeaaattt.

    Here’s an idea, Consumerist. How about instead of talking about how catching a cold makes you fat, you look at issues like class separation, food deserts, subsidies for unhealthy food products, or the differences between urban/non-urban populations when it comes to convenient access to inexpensive, nutritional food? My guess is you wouldn’t, because then your commenters couldn’t go their traditional “blame the fatties” route.