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Misc. News : Letter to Editor Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Obesity is spread by common germs
By Russell Farris
Aug 1, 2007 - 8:42:48 PM

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Dear editor,

You recently reported on the Christakis-Fowler hypothesis that obesity is spread through social ties.

Obesity is contagious, but you don't catch it by watching your friends eat too much. You catch it the same way you catch a cold--by inhaling or ingesting certain germs.

In The Potbelly Syndrome, Dr. Per Mårin and I show how chronic infections cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. I have attached a brief summary of our book.

I hope you will let your readers know that there is a more plausible explanation for the spread of obesity.


Russell Farris

Editor's response: 

The study we reported at reveals some association between social contact and incidence of obesity, but does not reveal any causal relationship, meaning that having an obese friend does not guarantee you have a high risk of becoming obese. 

I have a college friend who had quite some pounds and we had worked in the same laboratory for three years, but I had never gained any noticeable amount of weight! 

Now, if having a friend with some excess weight may increase your odds of becoming obese, the germ theory by Russell Farris is more cogent than what was explained by the authors of the study we reported and news media.   It is an interesting theory and we encourage everyone to take a look.

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