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Obesity Contagious?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the me-i'm-just-lazy dept.

Science 840

An anonymous reader writes "University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have found that certain human viruses may cause obesity, and by extension make being severely overweight a contagious condition. 'It makes people feel more comfortable to think that obesity stems from lack of control,' the lead researcher says. 'It's a big mental leap to think you can catch obesity.' But other diseases once chalked up to environmental factors, like stomach ulcers, are now known to stem from infectious agents."

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Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600849)

"Lois, everyone has their sanctuary. The Catholics have churches, fat people have Wisconsin, and I have the Pawtucket Brewery."
- Peter in Wasted Talent

Beer and cheese must not fall under the Atkins diet ... or maybe they do but you're not supposed to consume them by the metric tonne? Having never tried said tomfoolery, I'm not sure how it works.

Looks like those 'sconnies found an excuse ... remember, it's not that you're inactive or eat a lot. Thanks to technology, there are pills to cure obesity--3 AM TV told me so.

Re:Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600879)


Re:Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600912)

Beer is a major source of carbs and should be avoided. Cheese has some sugars in it and should be limited to a few ounces a day.

please type the word in the image: sinking

Re:Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600979)

Beer is a neutral carb, and quite healthy when consumed in moderation.

Re:Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (1, Offtopic)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600984)

Beer and cheese must not fall under the Atkins diet ...

Beer has a lot of carbohydrate, so it's out. Cheese, OTH, is mostly fat and protein. It's a-okay for Atkins.

Re:Peter Griffin on Wisconsin (4, Funny)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600997)

I'm still waiting for the particle physicists to confirm the existence of the subatomic particle that causes procrastination. I was going to suggest a funny name for it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Conservation of energy revoked? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14601043)

Yes, we will have hordes of overweight people going "See, told you so! I'm sick!"

What they will conveniently forget is convervation of energy: The only way someone can gain weight is by eating too much, compared to how much energy their bodies spend on moving and keeping you alive. End of discussion.

No matter which disease one may have, you will not catch 25 pounds from taking a stroll through the mall or, say, through breathing thin air. If a disease lowers the energy requirements of the body, the cure is to eat proportionally less.

TFA isn't clear on this, but I wonder precisely what is suggested being the cause of obesity in 'infected' individuals. Are they saying people simply become unable to control the urge to eat uncontrolled amounts of unhealthy foods?

So how do you catch 'soccer moms', no bikes as kids, McD dinners and no exercise in school?

Also strange is the fact that ulcers were commonplace all over the world, due to often being an infectious disease. Yet I wonder why the Europeans haven't 'caught' obesity on the US level yet? It is not like we haven't been mingling with them for, say, a few hundred years.

That's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600863)

Now millions will have a valid excuse to say, "No fatties."

WOOHOO! Ninnle! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600870)

Frist Ninnle Pissed!

Common viruses to look out for... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600871)

clear cut and easy to remember: "Burger King", "McDonalds", etc.

Re:Common viruses to look out for... (5, Funny)

cocoamix (560647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601079)

Ah, the dreaded Fat Cow Disease.

I believe that .. (1)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600876)

All the food that I eat seems to take weeks to travel through my intestines now, since my last infection by what was probably some rotavirus. I hope I didn't catch it from some of the rich gene-tech companies I am travelling by.

Can't wait... (1)

Malacon (761384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600878)

..For all the new Late night infomercials, telling us how being fat isn't our fault. Oh, a whole new generation of snake-oil is on the horizon

New Cartman saying.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600883)

I'm not fat, I'm diseased.

Re:New Cartman saying.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600930)

Yeah, just what I thought, now fat people have another excuse to not take blame for being so fat.

Re:New Cartman saying.. (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601003)

Yeah, just like those damn lepers.

Just keep your body parts on, you losers! Look at me, I manage to get through the day without letting boils form on my skin or limbs rotting off. You just need more motivation.

People are Obese regarless of Income or Geography (4, Interesting)

tcd004 (134130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600886)

Here's an interesting report from FP Magazine on obesity as a global epidemic. [] Interesting to note that obesity seems to occur independent of the financial factors that you would assume cause obesity. Report is a PDF download. tcd004

Re:People are Obese regarless of Income or Geograp (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600983)

from Lazy Boy TV [] on the "Obesity Epidemic" (Click on the TV to find the video reference) Grandpa, how did you ever survive? Well Johnny, it was terrible, there was cheese cake and fried chicken everywhere!

Re:People are Obese regarless of Income or Geograp (5, Interesting)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601070)

Well duh...

Look, the cause of obesity is really very simple: the human body (and its ancestors) evolved in environments in which food was scarce, and during that time mechanisms came into being which helped to deal with that scarcity. As a result, it has built-in mechanisms to ensure that there will be sufficient energy store for the body to use for all but the most drastic of food shortages. These mechanisms include the fat store, the tendency for fat to accumulate much more easily than it's used, and an appetite control mechanism that encourages overeating (since who knows when the next meal will become available?).

Now take the human body and put it into an environment where all the food one could ever want is easily available for the taking (all it requires is a small amount of money). What do you expect will happen?

Well, duh...the body will behave as it always has: under the assumption that while food might be plentiful now, it's not likely to be plentiful for long, so better stock up now while it can.

And thus, obesity.

And the reason obesity is so difficult to deal with, and why sustained weight loss has such a lousy track record (95%+ failure rate), is simple: to fight obesity, you have to fight your own body's instinctive drive to "save up for a rainy day".

Yea right (0, Redundant)

abenton (899893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600891)

And my pencil is liable for my spelling mistakes.

Fat people are fat because they eat so much and don't workout, not because they caught a virus. Its like saying "well maybe the gun just shot itself when it was being pointed at her", it just doesnt add up. Good try though, I'm sure the 3billion obese people just got some ammo to keep eating their Cheesy-Poofs.

Re:Yea right (4, Insightful)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600939)

Of course the amount you eat and the level of exercise you get, as well your genetics, affect your weight greatly but that is not to say there are not other contributing factors. If you read the article you'd know they have found these viruses increase the amount of fat retained by the body. Of course if you shoot someone on purpose it's your fault, but what if, perhaps, a manufacturing defect caused the gun to discharge without you pulling the trigger? Did you ever consider that there MAY BE OTHER FACTORS INVOLVED?

Re:Yea right (4, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600973)

The cure to obesity is to eat and live healthier, but it is clear that lifestyle is not the only cause. Many overweight people eat less and exercise more than other people with more ideal weights.

Funny thing (5, Insightful)

g8oz (144003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600896)

Funny how this virus is so widespread in the United States.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the availability of junk food and the national automobile culture.

Re:Funny thing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600980)

Hahaha. I call bs on this whole thing. No, I'm not going to RTFA. No, I don't give a crap what it says. It's the latest bullshit story from some 'study'. Obesity is contageous and pigs can fly. All you fatties are fat because you eat shitloads, don't excercise enough or have some kind of bad metabolism, 'nuff said. Contageous my arse.

Re:Funny thing (1)

bluprint (557000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600982)

This particular virus thrives in Twinkie cream.

Re:Funny thing (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601059)

Don't forget television overload.

Re:Funny thing (3, Interesting)

bullsbarry (862452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601065)

When you live a 45 minute drive from where you work because it's the closest place you can afford housing, walking or riding a bike to work is not an option.

Re:Funny thing (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601076)

Hey now! Remember, the people are bigger, but so are the pedals and doors on cars! But the automobile culture is somewhat necessary, at least in rural areas and moving between cities. The settlers who came spread out across huge areas, not as much in densely packed cities. You could bike across many European countries in a relatively short time, but the USA is a tad bigger. Heck, Ohio is, IIRC, 35th in size of the 50 states, and it's bigger in area than Scotland!

ha ha ha (1)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600898)

Get me a dozen fucking doughnuts, this virus is killing me.

Re:ha ha ha (2, Funny)

The Blue Meanie (223473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600960)

"I'm big boned!"

"You're big-ASSED, okay? Dinosaurs are big-boned. Put the fork down!"

"I'm not actually overeating - I'm trying to keep the virus at bay!"

Finally!!! (1)

gentlemen_loser (817960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600899)

McDonalds, Burger King, and 20 out of 24 hours behind a computer/console gaming has been VINDICATED!!!

I knew it all along - damn viruses. Probaby sent here by aliens too to "soften" us up before the attack

Re:Finally!!! (1)

Arcanis the Rogue (910060) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600975)

Keep in mind, they didn't say that this is the sole reason people are obese. I'm sure eating unhealthily and not excersizing has a much greater effect upon your weight than this virus, which hasn't even been thoroughly proven. The article said "There is accumulating evidence that certain viruses may cause obesity", not "Certain viruses cause obesity".

Re:Finally!!! (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601084)

McDonalds, Burger King, and 20 out of 24 hours behind a computer/console gaming has been VINDICATED!!!

Yes, it's not all the grease and lard in McDonald's food that causes you to become fat. But considering just how fat you'll get after eating there on a regular basis, Big Macs must be positively loaded with this virus...

Virus Warning (5, Funny)

Mr.Ziggy (536666) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600900)

If I fully cook it, can I eat fat people without getting fat?

Possibly... (1)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600950)

If I fully cook it, can I eat fat people without getting fat?

Sure, but that's guaranteed to piss off your girlfriend / wife / significant other...

Obesity comes from a simple condition... (1, Insightful)

Muerte23 (178626) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600902)'s called "intaking more calories than you output."

Sure, some people have higher appetites, or lower metabolisms, but a virus isn't going to manufacture mass out of the celestial aether. If you eat less than your body requires, you lose weight, and vice-versa.

m .this is not a sig

Re:Obesity comes from a simple condition... (1)

tshak (173364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601037)

Sure, some people have higher appetites... or lower metabolisms

It should be noted that while some have it easier than others, these things are easily controllable. Everything from the type of foods you eat, how often you eat, when you eat, and how active you excercise affects your metabolism.

Re:Obesity comes from a simple condition... (1)

Quantam (870027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601048)

No, but it can (in theory) modify the ratio of food intake that is burnt for energy versus converted to fat and stored (or even just modify the rate of fat metabolism). I'd be surprised if a virus promoted obesity, but it's not biologically impossible.

Also, there's no guarantee that, if you eat less than your body metabolizes, what gets metabolized will be fat. If something is funky with your fat metabolism, you may be eating away your muscles (and other tissue), and keeping the flab.

Re:Obesity comes from a simple condition... (0)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601104)

Also, there's no guarantee that, if you eat less than your body metabolizes, what gets metabolized will be fat. If something is funky with your fat metabolism, you may be eating away your muscles (and other tissue), and keeping the flab.

A metabolism like that isn't just "funky," it's downright totally fucked up. I'd be amazed if a person with a metabolic defect like that survived past one year.

No obesity in Los Angeles! (0)

huphtur (259961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600910)

Good thing I live in Los Angeles. There are only skinny [] people here!

Wisconsin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600914)

This is coming from Wisconsin, right? Isn't that the fatty capital of the world?

I say the research is biased...

I can vouch for that! (1)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600924)

I live in Wisconsin and that virus must be all over the place judging from the amount of obesity here! Flamebait me if you will, but it's pretty bad here! []

Re:I can vouch for that! (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600999)

What part of the state do you live in? Because I also live in wisconsin and I have not noticed an abundance of fat people

Re:I can vouch for that! (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601094)

Same, SE wisconsin. Most people are in decent enough shape.

Everything is contagious, in the social sense (5, Interesting)

EVil Lawyer (947367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600927)

Check out Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion [] .

There are some staggering data in there regarding the extent to which humans mimic the behavior of similar others. For example, there are statistically significant increases in the number of teenage-couples killed in car accidents among those teenage-couples who recently heard about accidents where teenage couples were killed. The increase is not observed in teenage-couples who didn't hear about the recent accidents, and is not observed among singleton teenagers or older couples who have been exposed to the news. These results have been repeated with a wide range of demographic groups, on a wide range of phenomena, and have been found to be consistent and strong. Hmm, notice a rash of mine accidents recently? Yes, I'm sure it's media focus-bias to some extent...

I really urge you to check that book out if you're interested in the instinct-level mental processes that control us without our being aware of them, or if you want to be..ah...evil?

That's a nice referral link there... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600963)


Re:That's a nice referral link there... (1)

EVil Lawyer (947367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601005)

Yes, there is. I'm glad you mentioned it. I happened to want to post a link to a book. I happen to be an affiliate. When I put the two together, it seemed to make sense to put the affiliate link in. I now realize that this may not be socially acceptable here, and I apologize for breaking the norm if that's the case. I thought that since no one would be hurt (except Amazon), and since I was making the post and link on the basis of preferences entirely unrelated to my Amazon affiliation, that it would be okay.

Virus or no (4, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600935)

Virus or no, the truth remains that if you eat less than your daily caloric requirement, you will lose weight. Being unable to control your intake of food DOES indicate a certain lack of control. It's hard to do -- I know this personally. But even if I knew I was infected with a virus I would still lay the responsibility squarely on my own shoulders.

Despite my attempts to keep this comment civil, I'm sure some will take offense...

Re:Virus or no (1)

Kotukunui (410332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601081)

Virus or no, the truth remains that if you eat less than your daily caloric requirement, you will lose weight.

Absolutely correct.

Maybe the individual variation over the Daily Calorific Requirement (DCR) becomes the issue. Perhaps the pathological explanation is more about alteration of the DCR such that the individual is unaware that they are consuming more than they need (until the belt gets tight and the scales seem to develop an "error")

Re:Virus or no (1)

Digital11 (152445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601086)

Agreed... Sure, it'd be nice to retain less fat from the foods you eat, but you still have the ability to control your weight regardless of some disease. I finally decided back in November to get off my fat ass and do something about it, and have since lost 52lbs just from doing Weight Watchers and hitting an elliptical machine a few times a week. I wish I'd known before how easy it truly is...

Thermodynamics, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600938)

Calories in - Calories out = Surplus / Deficit
(What you eat - what you burn = net change)

Just How Often? (3, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600942)

The researchers are haveing a hard time finding people who are infected with the 'obese' viruse ad-37, so I don't think it's all to common of an issue. (although they do mention that 'a significant' number of obese people are infected with ad-36, they don't mention what proportion that 'significant' number is).

Does anybody have pointers to numbers for the other two viruses?

Viruses aren't the only medical condition that can cause obesity, by the way. Various hormonal problems (thyroid comes to mind) can cause obesity as well. Even so, I'm expecting that they'll still find tha more than half of North American obesity is not environment related (other than an environment with an abundance of food).

Re:Just How Often? (1)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601061)

Excellent point. We can say the same thing about the infectious agent that causes stomach ulcers. The agent appears in lots of people who DON'T have stomach ulcers, it might be a necessary, but it is not a sufficient, cause. Perhaps there are some people who are obese because of some virus, but some of us might be obese because we never met a pint of Ben & Jerry's we didn't like, or we prefer the convenience of fast food, etc.

excuses (1)

crimespree (950033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600943)

There may be instances where a virus causes obesity, but I see this as becoming a scapegoat for people letting themselves go if it becomes widely accepted. The cure? EAT LESS AND/OR MOVE MORE!

Dennis Leary (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600945)

Dennis Leary did a bit on the idea of an obesity virus quite some time ago. I can't remember if its on Lock and Load or No Cure for cancer. There may be some accuracy to the research I suppose, but I am inclined to take the view that this really sounds like a cheap excuse. *gobble gobble gobble* I can't help it. I am feeding the virus! *gobble* *gobble* *gobble*

Habits are transferred- Is that "contagious?" (1)

kc01 (772943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600949)

Considering how many parties are "catered by Costco," I can see how habits of what one consumes is transferred to another. Perhaps it's the convenience of not having to cook, but the food we consume these days has lower nutritional content (or lower percentage compared to higher fat and carbs) than food of yesterday.

They mispelled stupid. (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600952)

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have found that certain human viruses may cause stupidity, and by extension make being severely idiotic a contagious condition. 'It makes people feel more comfortable to think that stupidity stems from lack of control,' the lead researcher says. 'It's a big mental leap to think you can catch stupidity.' But other diseases once chalked up to environmental factors, like bad breath, are now known to stem from infectious agents.

And I suppose that bicycling to work is now a controlled drug requiring FDA approval since it's so potent at curing obesity?

Face it. Fat people are fat because of math: calories in >> calories consumed + calories expelled.

Obesity is NOT genetic! (1)

Johnny Sailor (936454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600955)

I believe in the idea of a person being genetically predisposed towards having a slower metabolism, or retaining a certain degree of fat, but to the end of obesity? I don't believe so.

People really need to stop living in denial of their weight problems, and do something about it. Blame your backhair on genetics. Blame your obesity on the fact that you eat fast food almost every meal of the week, and take the elevator to get back to your office's floor.

I do have sympathy though. Working in an office for 8 hours or more a day is most certainly not conducive to weight lose, especially considering the fact that most of humanities existance was spent hunting and gathering, constantly burning calories, and barely keeping enough to grow and maintain muscle.

Re:Obesity is NOT genetic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14601068)

Of course obesity is genetic. Stupidity is genetic (stupid parents have stupid children), and the cause of obesity is stupid ("hmm, I weight 350lbs, I think I'll get a triple cheeseburger meal, supersize it please"), therefore, obesity is genetic.

Oh, wait, you meant directly. Sorry.

Spreading the love? (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600956)

Contagious fatness? There has to be a Fat Bastard joke in here somewhere...

But otherwise, it sure seems convenient to start blaming genetics and other uncontrollable factors for your problems, doesn't it?
Unless, of course, you end up as a healthy, intelligent person. Then, it's all your doing.
Maybe the only thing that's contagious is a fear of responsibility, a major problem when you consider all the laws made specifically for people who don't watch out for themselves. McDonalds' coffee IS hot, and a heavy diet of fast food IS NOT the best for you!

It's Perfect! (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600961)

First convince them that their problems are all because of some virus, then start selling them the antiviral 'cures' and 'fat virus causing - preventative' medicine.

Oh, man, there are some very creative people in this world and quite a few of them are working for major pharmaceuticals.

Interesting as a possible side cause (4, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600962)

There are, as with all things, multiple factors:

1. Genetics
2. Environment
3. Disease

Someone who is prone to ulcers (genetics) and works as a stock trader on the floor of Wall Street and doesn't eat well/doesn't exercise (environment) and catches the right germ (disease) is more likely to come down with an ulcer than the sheep herder in Wyoming who's only worry is someone using the word "brokeback" to them.

The same thing could be here. I know people who have struggled with their weight - they exercise, they try to eat well, and yet the pounds don't come off. Perhaps, like ulcers, there can be a simple protein check before dieting and exercise of "OK - looks like you have the virus. Let's clear that up while we change your eating and exercise habits", which will give many people hope before they have to resort to surgery.

Hopefully it won't just be an excuse for the lazy, like the Wall Street trader who'd rather take a pill for the ulcer rather than taking time out to go relax with their family and loved ones.

Now, with that said, I'm heading out and getting a whopper ;).

Great, now everything is contagious! (2, Funny)

krough (771131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600965)

"He didn't give you gay, did he?" - Homer

Didn't Denis Leary have something to say? (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600967)

There's a doctor now, I'd like to see what size he is, a doctor in L.A. came up with a theory that being fat is actually a virus. Ah, I guess Im the asshole here. Cause every other virus we know about is a flesh-eating virus: the common cold, AIDS, cancer. But hes the found the one that makes ya bigger. Okay, yep yep yep yep yep. That's all the fat person in each family needs. Now were at Thanksgiving with the fat person going, "Well Im not actually overeating. AHHMUMFMUMF, I'm trying to keep the virus at bay, AHHMUMFMUMF."

Scapegoat (1)

brain defrag (940949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600968)

Sure, diseases, medications and "bad genes" can dictate that a person gains weight more readily than others, but they still need to consume more calories than they burn in order to gain weight. Period. It still means a lack of control. If you're becoming fat, you're eating more than necessary to stay alive. It's just a matter of self-control to correct it.

Sedentary Nerd + Fried Carbs + Beer = Fat Nerd (2, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600969)

While some external influence (viral) might worsen matters by wretchedly increasing fat uptake at the cellular level in some people, I don't think it's any mystery why most of us reading this right now have a couple of pounds we'd like to get rid of.

Sure, wash your hands and reduce your random virus exposure. But get up and move around a little without the bag of chips. That's what I say. Also, will someone come and help me out of this chair?

Sure it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600970)

Yes, let's remove personal responsibility yet again. It's not because I eat three triple-cheeseburgers a day, it's genetics. It's not because I eat three meals daily at McDonalds, it's a virus.

There's only one cause for obesity: personal irresponsibility. Every other "cause" is a simple variant on that single cause. If you don't want to be a giant lard pile, there's a simple exercise that you can do that's guarenteed to cause weight loss: WALKING!

America's "obesity epedemic" is caused soley because Americans as a whole refuse to take personal responsibility. People are sueing breakfast cereal makers for making them fat!

It's not your genetics. It's not a virus. It's not McDonalds. It's not your breakfast cereal.

It's you.

Get off your ass, and start walking daily. You'll be amazed at the results. And best of all, walking doesn't require any expensive equipment!

Take responsibility? (1)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600976)

Is it just me, or are people growing less and less willing to take responsibility for their situations in life? "It's not fair, I've got The Fat (Fattitis? Human Fat Virus?)" People like to blame anyone else for their (lack of) eduction, their inability to drive, their terrible job, their ugly spouce (n/a for /.ers), their babysitter (TV) not censoring their kids enough.. Lets see, what else...

This Just In ... (1)

jetkust (596906) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600978)

I hear there is also a virus, called HIV, that causes promiscuity.

Did McDonald's fund this study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600985)

Or are they the carriers?

Why is a double cheeseburger cheaper than a single cheeseburger? Why is a quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a large coke cheaper than a quarter pounder with cheese, small fries and a small coke?

Why is a small coke now twice as big as a large coke used to be, not just at McDonald's but anywhere?

People are fatter than they ever were, but I don't think these virii are the cause, or obesity wouldn't be so contagious (cough).

Sure, virii may be the cause of some obesity, but they would have been the cause of someobesity throughout history, not just now.


Funny how (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600987)

Obeasity can be a virus but I hear no mention of a bug or germ that can turn anyone into a buffed hardbody, and no rigomortis after all the lard chokes your heart does not count as a hardbody.

Take responsibility for your unhealthy lifestyle. (1)

tshak (173364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600989)

It makes people feel more comfortable to think that obesity stems from lack of control

Of course it does. I'm not sure how conclusive this research is, but people will go to all ends to shift responsibility from themselves. I will go out on a limb and say, even considering this research, that the largest cause obesity is still poor diet and a lack of excercise.

Viral != contagious (1)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600990) least, not in the traditional sense of "contagious".

Just because something is caused by a virus doesn't mean that there isn't a pre-existing genetic defect that's triggered by the virus. If it were this simple, understanding a number of genetic problems would be a lot simpler. Instead, there's no "single source" of the problem.

Also many viruses aren't contagious in the "sneeze, cough, make you sick" sense of contagious. Viruses are a lot more common than people thing. Perfectly normal cells contain viruses and parasites, not harming you but are "along for the ride". Some bacteria are actually helpful and required for the body to function normally.

This isn't as simple as "I sneeze on you and get you fat".

Not too new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14600992)

Channel 4 in the UK did a programme about this theory about a year ago, and if memory serves they did the testing on avian virii. Interesting programme and a neat theory, but I'm sure that the insurance companies are going to hate it.

Sure, if being lazy is also contagious (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601000)

People drive to work, sit all day, eat high calorie meals, go home drink and eat more high calorie meals.
Then they get on the internet or play games or watch TV & movies, then go to bed.

Food is cheap, bad food is cheaper. Its easy to get into a rut where you inevetably gain weight, it is just part of our work / tv culture.

Seems like quite a leap (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601009)

Whigham said more research is needed to find out if Ad-37 causes obesity in humans. One study was inconclusive, because only a handful of people showed evidence of infection with Ad-37, not enough people to draw any conclusions, she said.

There is still much to learn about how these viruses work, Whigham said. "There are people and animals that get infected and don't get fat. We don't know why," she said. Among the possibilities: the virus hasn't been in the body long enough to produce the additional fat; or the virus creates a tendency to obesity that must be triggered by overeating, she said.

So the virus itself may produce excess fat? SO, if infected, perhaps certain people need to exercise a little bit more and eat a little bit less than those without the virus that are trying to lose weight. So, you get a vaccine against the virus. You can still gain excess weight! You just don't have the virus adding the extra 5% to your body...

I'm fat. Maybe it's a virus. Or maybe I gotta stop eating 3 burgers and a large fry for lunch everyday. Or maybe it's all the free Cola we get here at work...let's see 240 calories per 20 oz bottle...ahh yes, good stuff.

Stay away from the bar... (2, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601010)

Now can nailing fat girls can give you a venerial disease, amd also make you fat? I gotta stop drinking.

So... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601012)

Instead of blaming McDonald's we can blame a disease for Fat Americans? That won't fly. There's no money for the lawyers to get at if a disease is the blame. Unless something causes the disease. Wait a minute! Let's blame McDonald's for spreading the disease that makes Fat Americans and sue McDonald's -- again. My faith in the American economy has been restored.

Obesity vs. Susceptibility to Obesity (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601014)

A virus can't create fat. Stored excess calories from food creates fat. What happens here is that some people's bodies discard excess calories to maintain a certain weight while others store more of the excess food energy as fat. People in the latter category are susceptible to obesity. They have to be more careful about diet and exercise than people whose bodies can maintain a healthy weight when they overeat, and it's very easy to overeat in the U.S. Food is cheap compared to other expenses like housing and healthcare. Portions in restaurants are huge.

My new and surprising piece of advice... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601015)

There is a lot of good advice to help us avoid becoming obese, such as "Eat less," and "Exercise." But here's a new and surprising piece of advice based on a promising area of obesity research: "Wash your hands."

...based on informal non-clinical trials is to follow this 8 part regime, starting with actually "Eating more":

1. Eat more.
2. Feel lazy.
3. Goof off at work.
4. Get fired.
5. Run out of money to get stuff to eat.
6. Tap into stored adipose tissue to meet daily energy requirements
7. !!!
8. Lower body weight.

really? (1, Flamebait)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601020)

It makes people feel more comfortable to think that obesity stems from lack of control

Oh really? I mean, REALLY?!?!? Which people I wonder? As a person who could afford to lose some weight I would be seriously tempted to be able to blame my weight on factors beyond my control. "It's not me honey, it's the virus. Now pass the dang doughnuts before my virus makes me hurt someone." Except, I know that's not true.

It leaves me wondering how long it will be until we prove that no one is responsible for anything.

Yes it is (1)

aCapitalist (552761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601022)

Sitting in front of your 'puter talking about "us the community" and apostilating about how source code equals freedom will make any slashdork obese and laughed at

Not that I'm against this research (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601023)

I just find that the chance any particular obese person has for being fat because of a virus extremely low. People are always looking for a scapegoat, so when a study like this comes out, they can point to it as the cause while eating a triple cheeseburger (with supersize fries/drink) in the other hand.

I wish the article came with a excerpt that, even if true, that this isn't likely the cause of obesity in most people and that an imbalance of calories in vs calories out is the most likely culprit.

The fact remains obesity and diabetes II rates have been increasing fast since the mid '70s, since the introduction of High Fructose Corn Syrup (as a sweetener, cheaper than sugar, much higher glycemic index). I also think hydogenate/partially hydrogenated oils contributed to this, introduced earlier (margarine). I suggest avoiding both substances for a variety of health reasons. (I only wish whole grains were easier to obtain in supermarkets....)

In any case, the virus's discussed are old - they can't the cause for the relatively recent hike in obesity rates.

Of COURSE it's contagious... (2, Funny)

kzinti (9651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601035)

...I caught it from my potato chips.

Limited credibility. (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601040)

There are actual biological disorders known to cause obesity, so it is entirely possible that some fraction of those may be caused by a contageous pathogen. That is not impossible. Improbable, as the law of conservation of energy prohibits energy being created out of nothing, but not impossible.

The two most common causes of obesity are compulsive overeating (which is an actual addition and can often only be effectively treated as such), and gratuitous overeating (where the person is just a slob). The latter is rarer than you might think, as being a slob is not much of a survival trait. Addictions, however, are often derived from survival traits. Severely deranged ones, but survival traits nonetheless.

Now, addictive behaviours can appear to be contageous, as extreme dysfunctions tend to create extreme stress in others, which can in turn cause those others to become dysfunctional themselves. (We're talking fairly extreme cases, here.) As such, any research that theorises pathogens must first eliminate acutely dysfunctional groups. Otherwise, you're going to end up chasing shadows.

Eliminating acutely dysfunctional researchers who are paid by corporate sponsors to achieve pre-defined results would also be a good idea, but that would eliminate 95% of all researchers, which could cause problems down the road.

Any new angle helpful (2, Insightful)

ewg (158266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601041)

Any new angle on the issue is helpful. If there's a virus hindering people in their efforts to lose weight, then by all means identify and fight it.

Wisconsin (1)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601044)

Interesting article and subject... -HOWEVER-

I'm going to have to state the obvious, and that in Wisconsin, people eat lots of bratwurst, cheese, german-influenced 'comfort foods', fast food, and drink lots of beer. Further more it's f*cking 25F out and snowing right now. Not exactly bicycle/swim/rollerblading/physical activity weather.

I've been around most of the U.S., and I see more obese people here in WI (where I live now) than anywhere else. Try as I might to escape all the temptations about me, I've gained about 50 extra pounds myself. Everywhere you turn there's stuff to eat that you really shouldn't but oh damn does it taste so gooood.

I can go to to just about anywhere- stores, malls, movie theatres, exercise gyms, look around, and I'm *still* the 'thinnest' person around.

So yeah, I'd like to blame it on a virus or something too ;)

So let me get this straight... (1)

muffledduck (950727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601046)

People don't get sick from being obese, they get obese because they're sick. Can you call off work for being fat?

That's exactly what I tell my gf when she wants... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14601055)

... me to get up off my @$$ and clean up the place. "Obesity is contagious," I say, pointing to this article on /. And then she slaps me. And then I wake up and realize, hey wait, I don't have a girlfriend after all! And then I go back to sleep.

So Bubba... (1) (697847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601066)

CAUGHT the fat?

infectious (2, Funny)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601073)

Everyone knows that obesity is infectious. It's actually an STD! Men are carriers and women become infected. While there are various treatments which are legal, once infected, it usually takes some 10-12 months for women to fully recover from the effects of the disease. Unfortunitally, most women which are afflicted with this wind up some type of horrible growth that cohabitates and grows at cancerous rates, for some 18-25 years.

It seems the poor and uneducated are most often afflicted. Regardless of your social standing, please do not assume that you are safe! Most doctors agree that the use of a condom may prevent your girlfriend or wife from contracting this horrible, disfiguring, disease.

Spread how? (2, Funny)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601077)

Let me guess. The virus spreads through biting.


Antivirus (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601078)

Free McAfee antivirus included in any McDonalds. I am sure Burger King will offer Symantec.

Ad-36 and Ad-37 found in highest concentrations... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14601087) Quarter Pounders, extra-cheese pizzas, and mozzarella fries.

I have suspected this for some time (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601097)

Just to be safe I am going to swear off ALL of those viruses (ad-*).
Just to be safe.

"More beer and donuts please, and make sure its steril!"

Many comments fit researchers' prediction (3, Informative)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601102)

If you read just the blurb posted here, you'll see that the researchers say "it is easier to think of obesity as having something to do with willpower"[paraphrasing.] Most of the comments on this story seem to reflect this, and are just what the researchers predicted you'd say.
The point is the idea that obesity might not be something that you control really is frightening to us.

Yet another reason not to date fat women (0)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601108)

I accept the "troll of year" award. I like to thank American culture for this one. Let the moderation begin!!!

Infectious Agent (1)

LukePieStalker (746993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601109)

Obesity is in fact contagious. The carriers have names like Wendy and McDonald.

Contrary to what you guys are ranting... (5, Insightful)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601111)

I don't think their study is trying to say 'Cure this virus and cure obesity'. It seems more to point towards reasons that some people invariably gain more weight eating the same foods as others. There are factors of caloric absorbtion, and also factors of metabolisms being capable of breaking down and using fat. Many metabolic processes can easily be affected by contagens in the system.

What is to say that some viruses might also be affecting this?

If some treatment can just help a person who has struggled against weight their whole life have a slightly easier struggle without harming their body in a more severe way then more power to them.

On the subject of 'It's not your fault you're fat' (1)

Haiku 4 U (580059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601113)

Nobody gets fat
in a vacuum! Oh, except
for Ron Jeremy.
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