Recent medical studies have concluded that obesity may be contagious in humans and could be as easy to catch as a common cold.
CBS News reports that researchers have discovered a virus that may prompt weight gain in infected people.
Obesity expert Dr. Louise Aronne of New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center told The Early Show (CBS) on Tuesday:
"What this research shows is that a common cold virus can make people gain weight.
This is a virus that people can get, and it's been shown to cause fat cells to reproduce, and it looks like what it does is it makes fat cells sort of suck fat into them.
And that could make you gain more weight."
The virus has been identified as AD-36, or the Adeno virus. AD-36 is a type of cold virus that typically remains active in the body for up to 3 months. During that time it infects the lungs before moving along to other parts of the body, inducing symptoms such as sore throat and cough and causing fat cells to multiply.
Studies have shown that a full one-third of obese people are infected with the virus as compared to 11 percent of thinner people.
Further, results from testing performed on chicken and mice has proved that the virus would indeed produce weight gain in humans although it remains unclear how the it is actually transmitted.
Although the presence of the virus can be detected through blood tests, it is not routinely tested for by most doctors and physicians and no vaccine is known to be in development.
For now treatment options for weight gain induced by AD-36 infection remain the same as for all cases of obesity—controlled diet, increase in exercise, limited medical treatments and surgery.