Sunday, March 12, 2006

Beware the Fat Flu

With the world's focus on the Avian Flu, recent research on the "Fat Flu" has been largely ignored. For the last 6 years, scientists have been finding more and more evidence that one cause of obesity might just be a virus. Obesity might actually be contagious.

Obesity in this country is an epidemic. The rates of obesity has more than doubled for adults and tripled for children. Sedentary lifestyle and high sugar/high carb diets are to blame. Genetics also plays a very important part as well. Recent studies done by Richard Atkison and others at the University of Wisconsin found that 30 percent of the 500 obese participants were exposed to a certain virus. This virus, known as Ad-36, was just one virus associated with causing obesity.

In February of this year, scientists discovered another known pathogen linked with causing obesity: Ad-37 (pointed to at right). Researchers found strong evidence showing that Ad-37 caused obesity in chickens. Ad-36, Ad-5, and Ad-37 are all adenoviruses - which normally causes respiratory infection. Ad-36 has been linked directly to human obesity thus far. An earlier study found that identical twins of differing heftiness depended on the exposure to the Ad-36 virus. And you think a congestion and cough was all you could catch?

So is it possible that obesity can be linked to catching a "fat flu?" "The nearly simultaneous increase in the prevalence of obesity in most countries of the world is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed," the researchers conclude. "The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research."

If scientists can identifiy the specific adenoviruses, is it possible to eventually create a fat virus vaccine? It sounds so messed up - having your kids take vaccines against rubella, mumps, chicken pox, and obesity. But is it on the horizon?

"If Ad-36 is responsible for a significant portion of human obesity, the logical therapeutic intervention would be to develop a vaccine to prevent future infections," Frank Greenway, professor at Louisiana State said.

Other than some sort of vaccine against the "fat virus," how about washing your hands? That could be another way to ward off becoming obese. Also, if you see a really obese person about to sneeze, you should get the hell away from them. A cold might be the least thing to worry about catching from this nasty spray of spit, mucus, and obese-causing viruses.

Perhaps these researchers should study other adenoviruses and see if stupidity is also contagious. We need a vaccine to protect us from that too.


Siren said...

And all this time, I've been blaming Hostess :)

I love the pictures, too. So funny!

David Amulet said...

This seems to show that a chunk of obese people have this virus. But it doesn't say whether this virus makes it highly likely that the person will be overweight ... or it's just a propensity. I suspect the latter.

This story makes me wonder, though, about the name of this virus. If it's like the AIDS-causing HIV virus, then maybe this is the FAT virus. If it's like one of these robotic-looking virus names for things like bird flu, perhaps ASS-4U?

-- david

KC said...

I'd like to think that it's a virus contributing to the fact that I am overweight. But it's not. It's that I don't get off my fat butt and move. Plus, I eat too many carbs.

Spring-time is always good for me though because the change in sunlight makes me want to get out more and do things, which leads to at least a bit of weight loss.

Kay said...

Well, I did recently read a story about how anorexia and bulimia might be linked to immune disorders. (

So maybe doctors should instigate this disorder in overweight people with the fat virus. It would work the same way caffeine supposedly offsets alcohol, right? Uppers vs. downers...

:P fuzzbox said...

Maybe they should quarentine the buffet line at the Golden Corral.

the weirdgirl said...

This is just weird. If it turns out to be true and they develop a vaccine... I predict people will be suing the pharmaceutical companies, as well as Hostess, for being overweight.

Jamie Dawn said...

"If Ad-36 is responsible for a significant portion of human obesity, the logical therapeutic intervention would be to develop a vaccine to prevent future infections," Frank Greenway, professor at Louisiana State said... while polishing off the last of the sixteen piece extra crispy bucket.

I've had to work like crazy to ward off this virus. It attacks me at every turn and wants to turn me into Jumbo Jamie for the remainder of my days.
Without a vaccine, my immune system may be too weak to fight off the virus, and I will end up succumbing to the ravages of this hideous virus.
If that happens, I will have to resort to shopping in the Wide Load clothing section. If that were to happen, I would most likely become evil and start coughing on all the skinny ladies. Do you SEE what a monster that virus could turn me into??!!!??

Denny Shane said...

I know you didn't mean to make light of the newspaper headline about the mushroom incident. However, this has been a growing concern among us mushroom hunters.

Mushroom hunting must become a priority somehow. I am presently writing a book entitled Mushroom Hunting Safety. I'll let ya know when it's finished.

Curare_Z said...

This fits right in line with a new book just written by Michael Berman (D.C. lobbyist) called Living Large. He says fat people should just live with being fat because there is nothing they can do about it.

How's that for motivating?

The Phoenix said...

siren, They are doing a study concerning the "Twinkie Effect" and the "Ding Dong Syndrome."

david, I suspect the same. With regards to Ad-36, they took a group of chickens injected with this virus and fed them the exact amount as the control group - both groups got equal exercise as well. The infected group weighed so much more.

KC, I bet the sunshine and the longer daylight also helps you out. Maybe you can put away the lamp, or not have to use it as much. Spring is here for sure.

Kay, That's a real interesting article. We always assumed these problems were simply psychological or behavioral. Maybe they can inject those antibodies in Fat Flu infected people.

Fuzz, Good one. I've been there once. We walked in, saw all the fat people eating like pigs, and walked right out.

WG, it seems Hostess is the bain of several peoples' existence.

JD, I have seen your pictures. You are beautiful. You have nothing to worry about.

Denny, Mushroom hunting was alien to me until recently. A friend's brother was partaking in this activity at a park reservation and found a dead body. Amazing.

Curare, that kind of thinking will lead to Americans becoming even wider.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Oooo...if they need a test subject for that vaccine, pick me!!! Pick me!!!!!


BrianAlt said...

Wow, now there's one I never heard.

I still think that eating less is probably the best way.

Jillian said...

LOL Phoenix - Yeah I never really saw anything like that story about a man shooting himself in the foot while hunting mushrooms - ha ha!

Yeah they had better work on a cure for stupidity next, otherwise we might end up with a bigger problem than we think.

Mojotek said...

I always wondered why my next youngest brother was so much skinnier than me... assmunch probably didn't get sneezed on by a fat kid when he was little.

Jennifer said...

I've heard that theory before. I'd like to beleive it, I really would. But I think (much like SARS) we would have been seeing simular patterns in other countries seeing as we are a global community. I think it was Atkinson who wrote about being able to see the rates of obesity move like a wave across the country, much like a virus would move I guess.

I'm sure that fast food companies are all over that as a reason, I mean the reason we as North Americans are so fat couldnt have anything to do with biggie sizing, big gulps or even all the convienince foods that are filled with saturated fats (is that the bad one?), fructose and all those other calorie inducing/hiding crap ingredients.

Or shit like this:

I like junk, but that makes me want to barf.

Or even the fact that the typical big mac meal (not supersized) and regular coke equals almost your entire days caloric intake? When I was in highschool, my boyfriend would scarf down two or three of those burgers and two large fries!

Or what about the fact that the "large" drink found at A&W in the 50's is now equal to the small found today?

The fact is that we all battle 200K+ years of evolution. Where there is an abundance and variety of food, we will overindulge so that we can survive through the next period of food sparsity. I mean, if you were a hunter/gatherer, you would eat as much as you could, the next meat meal may not be for a day, or a month. Unfortunately, we have no more lean periods in order to take advantage of our fat stores. We also don't have to go on long walks to collect berries or root vegetables. Its been proven that when a person is only exposed to ONE kind of food, their appetite is decreased (Cabbage diet anyone?). When someone is given full reign at a buffet, their appetite goes into hyperdrive and they over eat. Its very hard for people to not follow this pattern.

Which group of people do you think were selected for over time? People who overate when the opportunity came and gained fat, or those that ate in moderation, and gained no fat? Who survived during famine?

Unfortunately in THIS society its killing us. So, all those kids that are not gonna make it out of childhood because of obesity - heart disease, diabetes....won't be selected for over time. So, the pendulum will swing back the other way.

kyknoord said...

It sounds like a variation on the KFC-McD virus.

Karen said...

Being a weight watcher for my entire life, I can relate to the problem. I've been fortunate to lose 60 lbs & keep most of it off for over 37 years. The *key* is re-education of one's eating habits... (i know, easier said than done).

DaBich said...

Well, if they come up with shot, I want one. The older I get the more I want to eat. LOL

phred said...

I think I have been exposed.

Master - Baiter said...

You see that`s what makes mushroom huntin so dangerous..mushrooms are small and are found down low to the ground. Don`t try to shoot one so close to yer foot. A good mushroom hunter will always take a step back before blastin the little buggers to kingdom come.
Also, when preparing moonjuice..always remove the buckshot.

delmer said...

I always suspected that being Baptist led to being overweight.

I don't have the funds to conduct any research on the subject ... so far it is just a theory.

ozymandiaz said...

I wonder if this can be traced back to a "subject zero"...Ronald McDonald.

The Phoenix said...

Stacy, you are (pea)nuts. Seriously, you don't need any such thing.

brianalt, Yeah. That makes sense, the more you put your mouth, odds are you're going to gain weight. But, like the study from a couple years ago showed - the virus chickens ate exactly as much as the control group and ended up obese anyway.

jillian, the only defense against stupidity is avoidance.

mojotek, you're probably right. Now go sneeze on your brother.

Jennifer, have you ever thought of making your blog more scientifically themed? Our bodies handling feast and famine served us well. But these days, we no longer hunt for our food - we have grocery stores. Plus, our foods are highly refined these days. Great points.

kyknoord, Hostess and McDonalds are in trouble.

karen, wow! That is a ton of weight. You are a true success story.

dabich, a shot to make your appetite go away. There's a thought...

phred, You'd better pray for a vaccine soon. Until then, make sure you only sneeze on a really skinny good looker person that knows they're buff.

master, Is a gun really necessary? Do mushrooms fight back or run away too quickly to maybe use a net, maybe a spear?

delmer, I think just being from the South increases the odds of being obese and really loving breaded fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. I don't know about Baptists.

Ozy, he must be eliminated.

L said...


great post

Laurie said...

Where do I get that shot??

Jamie Dawn said...

I see a lot of fat people at Walmart. Maybe shopping at Walmart makes people fat.

Grafs said...

This is so ill in so many ways. Unless they actually find a patient eating a balanced diet and gaining 2 lbs a day, I suspect the best way to catch this "virus" is at a the nearest fast food restaurant. The mushroom article made me laugh out loud!

Keshi said...

ur kidding me Phoenix?? lol plz tell me there's no such thing as Fat-virus...goshhh ur scaring me..


at the Lake said...

the f.a.t. virus lol

angel, jr. said...

Hopefully the treadmill will work wonders.
I'm not obese, but I am on the chubby side--yes a few late night fast food chain drive throughs, eating Funyuns while I read and eat whatever I can grab so that I could get back to studying may have done the trick. I really hope I don't have a virus.
But I've been visiting the gym lately--to relieve stress. Cutting back on calories, gave up junk food for Lent. Maybe I'll beat the virus afterall.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that not saying phrase like "supersize it","biggie size it" and "hell, yes, I want fries with that" might help in this situation as well.

LBseahag said...

wow...I cried cream filling reading this...

My blood type is Ragu, too...

The Phoenix said...

L, thanks for visiting.

Laurie, you SO do not need such a thing.

JD, Walmart is like a virus, isn't it?

grafs, I'd like to see how many normal weight people have been exposed. I agree.

Keshi, sorry. It looks like it's true.

at the lake, I don't think you have to worry about it. With all your running, you probably could use a little FAT virus.

Angel, You work out quite a bit. Just make sure you don't cock block again.

L.B., Actually, that's pretty gross. Thanks for the visual.

Jay said...

I don't know if I can handle that.

Sar said...

Too funny! That spraying picture is exactly how I wound up sick - kids can be hazardous to your health.

Sherri said...

The picture of the guy sneezing, gross!!!! :D

Kay said...

According to today's New York Times, Ambien is a culprit for sleep-eating and massive weight gain.

So many people unwittingly getting fat. Tragic. Now where did I put those sweatpants?

Etchen said...

Arrrggghhh! I caught that virus the other day at the ice cream shop! I knew I didn't gain weight b/c of what I ate! I LOVE that newspaper clipping. ;-)

Ben Heller said...

Did you hear about the problems in Australia?

Apparently obesity has risen over 10% in the last decade, and has caused government officials to review the weight limits for toilet seats.

Good post Phoenix

Keshi said...

lol Ben hahahaha yep many Aussies r over-weight, unfortunately...but the funnier thing is I always see lean ppl wherever I go :)


Yawn said...

Why am I just now discovering this blog? Oh yeah- and circumcison is a good thing unlike what some would want you to believe.

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