Childhood Obesity Linked to Cold Virus

Childhood obesity may increase the risk of the common cold, according to a new study that found children with the cold antibodies were markedly heavier.

Childhood obesity could be linked to a certain strain of the cold virus, new research shows. Researchers found that children who were infected by adenovirus-36 (AD 36), the virus that causes the common cold, were 50 pounds heavier than children who had not been infected by the virus.

The study examined 124 children who ranged in age from 8 to 18 years old. Each participant was tested for the presence of antibodies that fight against AD 36 in the blood.

They found antibodies in 19 of the children, of which 15 were obese and only four were of a normal weight. Researchers also found that not only were overweight children more likely to have antibodies to the virus, but 22 percent of obese children had antibodies compared to only 7 percent of children who were normal weight. Obese children with evidence of prior adenovirus-36 infections were about 35 pounds heavier than obese children who had not caught the virus.

“The bottom line is, it’s a big number,” Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, lead researcher and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego told MyHealth News Daily. “Certainly, it’s more than enough to be associated with health problems.”

Scientists speculate that the virus may infect cells that have the ability to story fat, causing them to mature more quickly. The virus may also affect the cells ability to break down fat, causing fat cells to become greater in number and in size.

Dr. Schwimmer noted that just because you have the virus doesn’t mean that you will obese. However, in the wake of further studies to determine the effect of the virus on obesity in children, physical activity and a healthy diet remain the best way to maintain a healthy weight.

The study appeared online last week in the journal Pediatrics.

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