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Surprising Study Suggests That Obesity Might Be Contagious
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Surprising Study Suggests That Obesity Might Be Contagious

An animal based research study has strongly suggested that in some cases obesity might be more than just genetics or other factors. That study, led by Richard Flavell, a professor of immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, proved that there might be more to certain types of obesity and obesity related diseases than nutrition, lack of exercise and genetics.

In the study, mice that were bred to have a particular immune deficiency that allowed them to more easily develop a condition called fatty liver disease. In humans, that condition is very common among the obese, affecting at least three quarters of that population. In as much as twenty percent of those people, the disease goes from an intermittent, occasional problem to a more serious disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly twenty nine million American adults have some degree of fatty liver disease. In addition, the condition has been diagnosed in young children as well. While not dangerous itself, the condition can be completely reversed simply by losing weight.

The mice were fed a Western style diet, typical of the average American and got fatter. Flavell then had the mice placed in a cage with healthy mice who were not bred with the same immune problem. Those mice, at normal weight until the others were put into the cage suddenly started gaining weight despite no change in diet or food amounts.

Flavell explained the weight gain on microbes in the stomachs of the immune deficient mice that were passed on to the healthy mice. Those microbes changed the balance of good and bad bacteria in the system, allowing the bad bacteria to grow unchecked. That in turn leads to a higher susceptibility to diseases, including fatty liver disease and other conditions.

Next up, researchers will start working on how to set up a similar study with humans to see if there is any kind of correlation. Mice, because they live in close quarters and typically eat each others excrement as well as food that has been contaminated with it are at a much higher risk of catching each others germs and bacterium. But, humans spread diseases amongst each other through contact and may similarly impact one another's health status just by being in close proximity. That suggests that environment may play a larger role in obesity than previously thought. Researchers caution that it is far from a complete explanation of obesity, but only a potential answer to one of many, many questions.


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Lemuel  

A good and highly informative article. Thanks

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  about 9 years ago
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