You all might remember this story from a few years ago:
This is one of the papers that article was based on:
Long story short, an adenovirus (virus Ive written about previously) was associated with obesity. That is, people with high BMIs were more likely to have antibodies to Adenovirus-36 than people with normal BMIs, 30%:11%.
Since 2005/2006, scientists have tried to flush out the how/whys behind Ad36–>Obesity, with quite a bit of success:
However, all of these studies were done in animals and tissue culture. Subsequent studies in humans, trying to recapitulate that 30%:11% havent been popping up yet.
Until very recently :-/
Lack of Evidence for the Role of Human Adenovirus-36 in Obesity in a European Cohort– They looked for Ad36 antibodies (~500 people) and Ad36 DNA in visceral fat (~30 people). 3.9% seroprevalence in non-obese, 5.7% in obese. Couldnt find any Ad36 DNA in fat from ‘severely obese’ individuals.
Adenovirus 36 seropositivity is strongly associated with race and gender, but not obesity, among US military personnel– Looked for Ad36 antibodies in ~300 military personnel. 38.8% of the normal controls were Ad36 positive, 34.3% in obese individuals.
Hmm. So weve got a lot more Ad36 in the US than Europe, and while it is totally possible for Ad36 to be ‘playing a role’ the obesity epidemic (causing obesity in some people who would normally be ‘normal’), its not The Cause.
So… just keep this in mind the next time you are getting your scientific news from Marie Claire…