Is Obesity Contagious? It seems that it is….

The chance of a person becoming obese increases by ….

57% if they have a friend who becomes obese

40% if they have a sibling who becomes obese

37% if a spouse becomes obese

The risk is increased, even if the friends and family lives hundreds of miles away. And, if someone looses weight and is no longer obese, there is a higher likelihood that their family and friends will also loose weight. Who we get our support from IS important.

These data were generated from the 12,000 people who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, over a 32 year time frame (New England Journal of Medicine, July 2007).

What we have discussed implies that obesity is socially contagious? Could it actually be due to a virus?

There has been some research that has explored the link between a virus, Adenovirus – 36 (Ad 36) and obesity. Apparently this common cold virus has a direct effect on human fat stem cells – it infects the fat cells which lead to an increase in fat cells. Research found that 30 % of obese individuals were infected with this virus, whereas only 11% of non obese were infected. Other viruses have also been implicated


Pasarica et al, in Stem Cells, 26 (4), 969-978

Vasilakopoulou et al, in International Journal of Obesity, 31 (1), 87-96