Posted on January 27, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |


Just when I didn’t think the news media and pharmaceutical industry couldn’t sink any lower, we are being cautioned that if you are thin, stay away from fat people because they’ll make you fat because of a fat virus.  Please!  I never heard anything more idiotic than that in a long time.  There’s a news story that has surfaced (video and separate story at bottom).  People of a different color, religion, gender and sexual orientation are off limits so who is left for the media to attack now?  Fat people, of course, because even in this overly offensed nation, it is still acceptable behavior to attack fat people.  How disgusting is this?  It is more apparent in Hollywood "fat" movies where thin people don fat suits instead of just hiring a fat person for the role, and on the comedy circuit where there are fat jokes galore.


I can see an old episode of the Twilight Zone resurfacing…1960s "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street", written by Rod Serling and covered one of his favorite themes:  mob psychology.  A peaceful summer day on Maple Street in a quiet suburban town is shattered when the residents believe they’re under some type of bizarre alien invasion.  Nearly all of their technology (i.e., lights, autos, appliances, etc.) begins to malfunction and panic sets into the neighborhood.  Instead of trying to find the true cause of this disaster, however, the residents take the path to least resistance and start to accuse each other of being the "monster."  Soon they’re turning on their own neighbors and a vicious riot ensues.  There truly are some aliens in the mix, but they’re basically unobtrusive observers to the chaos.  Their strategy is simply one of "divide and conquer" and the distrustful people of Maple Street are the perfect guinea pigs for their first experiment.

"The Monsters…" shows Serling’s most biting and cynical side.  There were many Twilight Zone episodes that dealt with mob rule as their subject matter, but this one is the best of all and a true classic in the series.  Even the aliens quite smugly agree with Serling’s view of human nature.  "They’ve found the enemy, and it is themselves."  How true those words are.


Now, in the 2009 version, Maple Street is Main Street USA, the alien attack is the "fat virus attack", technology malfunctioning is changed to people’s metabolism malfunctioning, blaming all the fat people in the world for their fatness.  Do you see the similarities here?  How barbaric is this?  People get fat because of varying reasons, none of which has to do with having a fat person sneezing on them or sitting next to them in a restaurant.  This is such nonsense that I have to laugh.  It’s ignorance in its ugliest form.  Just when fat people thought it was safe to eat a sandwich in front of others, this story comes out to set them back.  This is just as preposterous as saying that if you sit next to a guy who is allergic to shellfish, if he sneezes on you, you will "catch" the allergy as well.  Please, people, get your heads out of the sand!


If you ask me, and this is my own conspiracy theory surfacing here…This is the sly pharmaceuticals’ way of getting grant money out of an already overstressed, moneyless pit from the government, during a near dead economy.  Fear breeds fear, and when the money-grabbing pharmaceutical companies get out the word about the so-called “AD-36 adenovirus”, people will start to turn on fat people blaming them for their fatness or inability to lose weight instead of examining what the real cause is—inactivity and overeating.  Instead of reaching for a salad, they will go out and hunt down and punish fat people, where the pharmaceutical industry will say that they can try to stop the spread of this "fat virus" with more money from the government.  Remember when the government and the media told us fish oil was dangerous to our health?  Lo and behold, down the road, the government funds a research group that looked into a "pharmaceutical grade" fish oil capsule, which happens to be 2-3 times the price of natural fish oil capsules, they find it and FDA passes it.  The corrupt government officials from the FDA took handouts from the pharmaceutical giants and debunked natural fish oil caps while praising the prescription brand, stating that although it is more expensive, it’s "better for your health" because it’s government regulated.  Hmmm…when did government regulation help with anything?  Even Wall Street is still tanking after the government’s intervention.  Please!  Spare me the government and media mumbo jumbo!  I trust their reporting just about as far as I can throw them.


What would be more believable story to me is the media issuing a statement that some chickens had the AD-36 adenovirus and were put into the food supply.  The people who ate the infected chickens developed the virus, not by sitting next to a fat person.  That’s a story that seems to have more credence?  What do you think?


What is happening to this world as we know it?  The media consistently beefs up stories (no pun intended) for ratings and has always put the cart before the horse and has neglected to get their facts verified.  This fat virus story is out there creating anxiety and hostility, yet this virus has only been studied in lab animals (chickens and monkeys).  Human testing has not been committed on the grounds of “research ethics”.   What do they know about what this would do to humans?  Anything to sell a story, huh?  Whatever happened to journalistic ethics?  God help us…


Could fat be catching?

by Jenny Bryan

Could a fat virus be responsible for the epidemic of obesity that is sweeping the USA and seems to be spreading to Britain? Obesity scientist, Dr Nikhil Dhurandhar thinks that it is and has some intriguing research findings to back him up. But he knows that other obesity specialists cannot believe it’s that simple.

The concept of a virus causing obesity is so far away from mainstream causes of obesity that it’s going to take much more convincing and evidence simply because it’s a very different idea. But we’ll do it,’ predicts Dr Dhurandhar, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

In the USA 61% of people are now officially classed as obese (with a body mass index, BMI, of over 30) or overweight (BMI of 25-30). The situation is scarcely any better in the UK, with about 20% of people obese and over 40% overweight.

If you look at a map of obesity in the USA, you can watch the epidemic spreading rather like a forest fire from the east coast to the west over the last 20 years. And it is this, says Dhurandhar, which suggests that there could be an infection.

It started with chickens

Dhurandhar’s story starts in Bombay in the 1980s with a mysterious epidemic that wiped out hundreds of thousands of chickens. The birds were found to be infected with an adenovirus called SMAM-1. Adenoviruses are very common. There are at least 40 types that affect humans and they cause about 1 in 20 cases of chest infection.

What was intriguing about the Indian chickens with SMAM-1 was not so much that they were probably killed by an adenovirus infection, but that they died plump, with a large pale liver and large kidneys. They weren’t thin and emaciated as you might expect an animal with a virus to be.

Working in India, Dhurandhar deliberately infected some more chickens with the same virus and, sure enough, these birds also put on weight. He decided to pursue his research in the USA, but the US government wasn’t keen on him importing a virus that had wiped out a large portion of the Indian chicken population.

Instead, Dhurandhar borrowed a human adenovirus, called Ad-36, from the US collection and set to work infecting first chickens and then rhesus monkeys and marmosets. Like the chickens, infected animals started to put on weight. Six months after they were infected, three male marmosets put on three times as much weight and doubled their body fat compared to three animals that were not infected. It was a very small study, but the results were still impressive.

It wouldn’t be ethical to infect humans with Ad-36 to see if they got fat. But, as the virus does occur naturally in the human population, Dhurandhar decided to compare infection rates in people who were fat with those who weren’t. He tested 500 people in three cities. Thirty per cent of obese people screened positive for the Ad-36 virus, compared with only 5 to 10% of those who were not overweight.

How the fat virus might work

Dhurandhar – and his critics – wanted to know how a fat virus might work. Dhurandhar showed that Ad-36 appeared to increase the size and number of fat cells in infected animals. In the laboratory, his experiments suggested that Ad-36 encourages pre-fat cells with the potential to become fat cells to do just that. Three times as many pre-fat cells became fat cells when they were exposed to Ad-36 compared with fat cells that weren’t exposed to the virus.

Twin studies

As part of his studies to try and convince other obesity researchers about the importance of the fat virus, Dhurandhar turned to a set of identical twins, Christyn and Beth. Born with exactly the same genes, there was no chance that one twin was genetically more likely to put on weight than the other. Until they went to college, the twins did indeed remain a very similar weight – as do nearly all sets of identical twins. But in the two years after Christyn left home to go to college, she became two and a half stone heavier than her twin. Blood tests showed that, while Beth remained Ad-36 negative, Christen had, at some point, been infected with the virus. Did the virus make her put on weight or did she just eat more and exercise less when she went to college? Who knows, but Dhurandhar blames it on the virus.

Others remain sceptical.

‘The idea that a virus may be causing obesity seems intrinsically unlikely,’ says Professor Stephen Bloom, from Imperial College, London. ‘Obesity has been growing at a constant rate for about 50 years and the causes are pretty obvious. People have been eating much more and taking less exercise. Why do you need to invent some strange story about a virus?’

Virologist, Professor William Russell, from the University of St Andrews, points out that adenoviruses have never been linked with a long-term illness, like obesity. They cause short-term infections and disappear. It’s important to keep an open mind but, at present, the evidence just does not stack up, he says.

A vaccine against obesity?

In the USA, some scientists are more prepared to accept that viruses could be involved.

‘Viruses can lie dormant for many years and we’ve seen the crossover of the HIV virus, for example, from animals to humans. We may be seeing a similar thing now with the obesity virus,’ suggests Dr John Foreyt from Baylor College, Texas.

‘We really don’t know why people get fat or why people are skinny. There’s so much that is unknown and that’s why we need new theories and people looking at why our bodies are the way they are,’ he says.

One possible hypothesis is that, in the late ’70s, someone working on a chicken farm in India had the Ad-36 virus and came in contact with birds with SMAM-1. The two viruses got together, exchanged genetic material, and turned into a hybrid virus capable of infecting humans and making them fat. There is nothing, of course, to confirm this series of events, but Dr Dhurandhar now has research grants to help him develop his theories. He has his sights set on a vaccine against the fat virus, but accepts that could be some way off:

‘It would be absolutely fascinating to have a vaccine to prevent at least some types of obesity virus – that’s my dream,’ he says.


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