Danger! Fatties are contagious!

Western surge in obesity may have been caused by a virus

Researchers have discovered new evidence for an illness they have called "infectobesity" -- obesity that is transmitted from person to person, much like an infection. The agent thought to be responsible is a strain of adenovirus, versions of which cause the common cold. It has already been labelled the "fat bug". [...]

Children carrying the virus weighed on average almost 50lb more than those who were not. Among the obese children, who accounted for half the total, those with the virus weighed on average 35lb more than the rest. [...]

Laboratory studies showed the virus infects immature fat cells, prompting them to proliferate and grow more quickly.

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21 Responses:

  1. elusis says:

    My new money-making venture: go up to rich people and threaten to sneeze on them if they don't pay me off.

  2. rane500 says:

    Cue mad ravings from the fringe saying this virus was created in a lab by the food industry for a vast conspiracy to make trillions.

    • leopanthera says:

      Wouldn't the food industry want the exact opposite?

      • rane500 says:

        Hah, look around. If we assume hypothetically for a moment that this is both valid and a major contributor - realistically speaking, how many people would look at themselves and go "wow, I need to go get rid of this, no more junk for me!" and how many just go "fuck it, I'm already overweight."

        I'll freely admit the second thought crosses my mind WAY more than the first. This is tailor made for creating new customers! I can't wait for the first crazy claim that the evil corporations spread it through actual food in the first place.

        The Dunkin Donuts...OF DOOM.

        • gryazi says:

          That's just you and the rest of Glenn Beck's America, dude.

          I've been around so many rail-thin people who do a nightly tub of Ben & Jerry's like it ain't no thing. Then there's people like me who get lardy from breathing, though exercise is still key.

          (And you can really see this disparity if you travel anywhere with a propensity for 'horrible fattening food.' Obviously a major part of it is that, now that everyone in 'merka is sitting on their ass all day long, everyone with a hint of a predisposition is going to show it.)

          The virus theory is interesting; I'm also partial to the theory that how many adipocytes you grow as a kid matters (whether by virus or stuffing your craw), since I was a tubby kid raised by an ex-skinny-jock who'd ballooned -- what, you mean a late night snack of half a loaf of bread and butter isn't healthy? -- and a skinny mom who cooked to his tastes because she barely ate anyway. (Of course, we all drank diet soda...) Meanwhile, Dad still drops weight a hell of lot easier than me until his eating disorder puts it back.

          And I'm seeing the same thing with some associates' kids and thinking "arrgh" - the chunky 4th-grader jumping around like a kid on Maury going "I'm hungry!" whenever she drops by. I'm pretty sure most growing kids must have that appetite (I remember it), so stuffing them with nothing but carrot sticks and oat products instead of Kraft during the sensitive period (...up through high school or so, that's only 16 years for a parent to try to enforce that...) probably results in delightful hipsters instead of The Obesity Epidemic.


          Or, in short form, I'm a believer that the amount of fat you put on before you have the ability to exercise anything resembling 'reason' over your eating habits is a major determinant. If there is some damn virus some people get that causes them to put more on early (whether or not the effect sticks around after that), it's definitely gonna put more of them in the 'fucked later on' boat.

          [IIRC the idea is that adipocytes are a lot happier to divide -- like every other tissue -- when a kid's growing, so the lower you can keep body fat until all the growth-hormone signals taper off, the less of a problem you'll have in the future with adult do-I-really-have-to? rates of cell division. So maybe you still pick up a beer gut, but you won't have to buy double airline seats unless something else goes horribly wrong (as did with my dad, who alternated between eating nothing but hot dogs and weird '60s jock ideas of nutrition until he somehow completely blew out his ability to tell 'satiety' and 'hunger' apart. It's pretty freaky hearing him bemoan dieting/figuring out how to eat with "It's so weird how the one thing we have to do every day is eat," when.. "Um, most people could last a month -- you die in 2 days without water.")]

  3. sushispook says:

    I'm quite sure that the internet will discuss this in a calm, informed, and constructive manner. By which I mean, it will end in INTERNET TEARS.

  4. leopanthera says:

    Your Twitter auto-posted link to this didn't quite make it: http://twitter.com/jwz/status/25144849965

    Seems like it's not just you, either.

  5. loftwyr says:

    I'm starting to think that the fat farms should have higher fences and guard towers... Just for the inmatesclients own protection, of course.

  6. ekesobriquet says:

    Man I knew this fella with a serious case of the fats...

  7. jabber says:


    I mean... "Mad Cow Disease!"

  8. andrewducker says:

    God, the stupidity in the comments really burns.

  9. I'd sneeze harder, though supress it okay too; isn't that a factor?
    Also, why local fatties, if the virus spreads like any other thing? Nice fat provision of food without vitamins? (Nah, they'd tap that out in the study design.)

  10. andr00 says:

    It has already been labelled the "fat bug".

    Labels are hurtful! Every bug is special and beautiful!