Reader Letter: ‘Could obesity be a viral infection?’

Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Obesity is growing in the UK and other civilised cultures and billionsof pounds are made annually out of selling obese people various diets designed to bring the 'customer' back to their desired weight.

Fat people are often the butt of jokes about their looks and the clothes they have to wear, and their supposed lack of self-discipline in not having the willpower to eat less and exercise more.

The commonly held view is that people become fat because they eat too much per se, or consume the wrong kind of food.

While this probably is true for a majority of overweight people, we also do hear fat people claim that they don't eat all that much, they go to the gym but, inexplicably, still put weight on; 'yeah, yeah, that's what they would say' is the common response.

It is, however, rather simplistic just to dismiss this as them being in denial and that they should pull themselves together and just get down to eating less.

As with the old adage about walking for a mile in someone else's shoes before condemning them, all is not always what it seems at face value.

An Indian doctor specialising in obesity, serendipitously came upon a chicken virus that made chickens fat.

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Chickens in the lab given the virus, put on weight, especially in the abdomen, while chickens not infected remained at their normal weight, both groups being fed the same amount of food.

Another group of mixed infected chickens and healthy ones resulted in the majority of uninfected onesalso gaining weight.

This led him to test his obese human patients for antibodies to a variation of the chicken virus, a correlation which he duly found.

Could obesity be a viral infection?

So it would seem there are grounds for treating obesity as not simply an eating disorder or being caused by alack of willpower, certainly not for everyone, which may give hope to those desperate to prevent death from obesity complications.

Maybe hope is on the horizon.

More information can be found here Mike Jozefiak, Hungate Street, Aylsham.