nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Media Hypes Virus As Cause Of Childhood Obesity

The new research, while interesting, makes no case for causation.

I predict you're going to see a lot about this in the media.  Everybody wants an external explanation for bad things that happen to them.  "If I'm fat, it's not because I eat a lot.  It's because I caught a virus"  (i.e., not my fault).

You can read one of the news articles here (from the Wash Po Health Blog, Sep 20), or the journal article in Pediatrics here.

The authors of the research, unlike the newspaper (who titled their article, "Could a childhood infection trigger obesity?"), are careful to say that there appears to be an "association" of antibodies to Adenovirus 36 (a common cause of minor illness) and being overweight, in children.

You see the issue, right?  Is the association a coincidence?  Why don't the other 100 million kids who get AD36 become obese?  Are obese kids just more prone to AD36, instead of the other way around?

The questions are endless.  And, the study included only 124 kids; that's very small.  Also, some non-obese kids had antibodies to AD36.

To be fair, the "association" was strong.  If you separate out just the overweight kids 3/4 had positive antibodies (but remember, I said this was a very common causes colds and stomach's going to be around all the time).

For Onion Peelers,
Of the 124 children, 46% were nonobese and 54% were obese. AD36 positivity was present in 19 children (15%). The majority of children found to be AD36-positive were obese (15 [78%] of 19 children). AD36 positivity was significantly (P < .05) more frequent in obese children (15 [22%] of 67 children) than nonobese children (4 [7%] of 57 children).

File this away as interesting, and worth following up.  Any takers for a bet that we will uncover a number of other factors at work here?

Doc D

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