Childhood Obesity Epidemic Linked to Virus Cold virus found in disproportionate number of obese children By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Sep 21, 2010 4:40 AM CDT 18 comments Comments Obesity among young people in the US has tripled to 17% over the last 30 years. (Getty Images) (Newser) – The steep rise in childhood obesity over the last 30 years may have as much to do with a common virus as it does with diet and lifestyle, according to new research which adds weight to "infectobesity" theories. Scientists studied a group of 124 children in California and discovered that 22% of those who were obese had been infected with adenovirus 3, a strain of cold virus, as compared to just 7% of those whose weight was in the normal range. Obese children without the virus weighed an average of 50 pounds less than obese children with it. Scientists believe that the virus, which has previously been linked to obesity in adults, causes fat cells to mature faster, the Independent reports. "This work helps point out that body weight is more complicated than it's made out to be," said the lead researcher. "It's time that we move away from assigning blame in favor of developing a level of understanding that will better support efforts at both prevention and treatment."