Research presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that a common virus that causes cold and eye infections may contribute to obesity too.

Lab experiments have shown that an infection with human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) seems to influence adult stem cells to turn from fat tissue into fat cells. To prove this possibility, researchers showed that the stem cells not exposed to the virus have stayed unchanged.

Further more, a specific gene in the virus named E4Orfl has been identified to have been possibly involved in this obesity-promoting effect.
It is certain that researchers don’t think that this virus, which is widespread in nature, could be the sole cause of obesity but are certain that obesity cases may involve different viral infections. However, this area of research is still new and experimental so nothing can be said with certainty.

The truth is that obesity seems to be more complicated issue that it has been thought and that it goes far behind just fast food and lack of exercise.

If these findings appear to be true, it could lead to a vaccine or antiviral medication may help fight some forms of obesity one day.
Researchers don't believe that everyone who has been infected with Ad-36 will develop obesity. Identifying underlying factors is essential in finding a possible treatment.

It has been demonstrated that the Ad-36 virus was capable of causing animals infected with the virus to accumulate fat. Further more, an epidemiologic study found that 30% of obese people were infected with the Ad-36 virus compared to just 11% of slim individuals.
To see how the cells behave, researchers took adult stem cells from fatty tissue from a number of patients who had undergone liposuction. They exposed half of the stem cells to Ad-36. After about a week of growth in tissue culture, most of the virus-infected adult stem cells developed into fat cells.

The next step is identifying the factors that predispose some people with Ad-36 to develop obesity while others do not and possibly even finding other human viruses that may be involved in the process.