Dr C:

Sci­en­tists have linked be­ing over­weight to a virus, and say cre­at­ing a vac­cine could end the cri­sis – Dr C isn’t con­vinced

Closer (UK) - - Contents -

“Sadly the obe­sity jab isn’t a magic cure”

Avirus called A ade­n­ovirus-36, a com­mon cold bug that is eas­ily passed on through cough­ing and sneez­ing, is found four times more of­ten among the obese than peo­ple with a healthy weight, and ex­perts think a vac­cine against it could halt obe­sity – but the prob­lem is far too com­plex to solve with a jab. Re­search has only shown a pos­si­ble link, so to say a vac­cine can wipe out obe­sity is a stretch. An­i­mals in­fected with the virus show sev­eral signs associated with obe­sity; they are heav­ier, have in­creased glu­cose ab­sorp­tion and lower se­cre­tion of lep­tin (a hor­mone that tells you to stop eat­ing), so there’s a pos­si­ble link, but so many fac­tors cause us to be­come over­weight and you can’t vac­ci­nate against them all.


You could vac­ci­nate every­one against this virus and we would still have an obe­sity prob­lem, be­cause we overeat and don’t move enough. Other re­search has shown there are 13 dif­fer­ent genes associated with BMI, so it isn’t an easy fix. If ev­ery sin­gle baby at birth had their genes tested, we would know which med­i­ca­tions would work and which would cause dan­ger­ous side ef­fects; you could also look at the like­li­hood of catch­ing main dis­eases, plus this virus, but even if you knew you’d be more likely to be obese, you’d still have to eat bet­ter and ex­er­cise more to stay slim, which is what you’d have to do re­gard­less. This vac­cine wouldn’t stop you get­ting fat if you still made bad choices!


I’ve spent a lot of time work­ing with the mor­bidly obese and they sim­ply can­not shift the weight. Life­style has played a part, but that shows there is some­thing else go­ing on, too. That’s where this jab, or some­thing like it, may help. It’s such a strug­gle, once you’re obese, so if we can help peo­ple not get there in the first place, that has value. But I also have pa­tients who tell me “I hardly eat, I don’t know why I’m this big”. I tell them to keep a food di­ary and it’s a real eye-opener, be­cause it makes you aware of what you eat, and of­ten you re­alise you’ve been kid­ding your­self.


We can’t dis­miss this vac­cine, but it wouldn’t be use­ful for ev­ery­body, and we don’t know if it will ever hap­pen, so in the mean­time noth­ing changes. If you’re over­weight, don’t just ac­cept it – try dif­fer­ent types of ex­er­cise, keep a food di­ary and try to change your life­style for the bet­ter.

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