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Varicella vaccine causes childhood obesity

Post hoc ergo procter hoc
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Childhood obesity - why is it a problem now? Various glib explanations are offered but none ring true to me. TV has been around for decades. Video games and generally sluggishness are blamed - but boys play video games much more than girls, and obesity afflicts both genders. If anything, there is less unhealthy food now than 10 and certainly 20 or 30 years ago. Why are kids getting so fat now? It is a fairly acute problem (see link with graphs from UK).

I propose that there may be an infectious cause, or even a lack thereof. The obesity epidemic closely mirrors the use of varicella vaccine (against chicken pox). The natural condition of humans is to be infected with the varicella virus. What if this is necessary to properly balance the metabolism?

There are places in the world where the varicella vaccine has not yet been introduced. In these places, the epidemiology of childhood obesity should be watched to determine if there is an obesity spike after vaccination becomes routine.

If an epidemiologic link is proven, this would offer an avenue towards treatment / prevention of childhood obesity - either alter the vaccine, allow infections, or other manipulations that recreate the varicella - endocrine interaction.

bungston, May 10 2005

Varicella vaccine http://www.cdc.gov/...%20vaccine%20graph'
[bungston, May 10 2005]

Obese english kids http://www.iotf.org/childhood/
Look at that curve. Why now? [bungston, May 10 2005]

Or maybe it’s not the vaccine. Maybe it's the fries. http://www.rotten.c...any-happy-meals.jpg
In, 1990, McDonald's restaurants switched to 100% vegetable oil for cooking French fries. Previously, they’d used 7% cottonseed oil and 93% beef tallow. [ldischler, May 11 2005]

Or the cola... http://www.washingt...10?language=printer
Yeah, my money's on high fructose corn syrup. [ldischler, May 11 2005]

Commercialisation in uk schools http://www.healthma...ories/rayner44.html
[Ling, May 11 2005]

Liquid Pleasures: A Social History of Drinks in Modern Britain http://www.history....s/paper/hilton.html
"By 1995, around 20 per cent of all drinks bought in this country were soft drinks" [Ling, May 11 2005]

Obesity epidemic http://www.springer...nresults,1:109374,1
The fact that obesity is the biggest problem among lower income folks suggests that this hypothesis is wrong, as I would suspect these kids would be the least likely to be vaccinated against varicella. [bungston, Dec 23 2005]

//Correlation is not causation// http://i277.photobu...eptical-hippo-1.jpg
What a skeptical Hippo may look like [Dub, Mar 23 2011]

Body Mass Index (BMI) http://en.wikipedia...iki/Body_mass_index
Not the most reliable of measures and not really designed to measure obesity. [DrBob, Mar 23 2011]

[link]






       //I propose that there may be an infectious cause, or even a lack thereof.// You might just be onto something here.
Basepair, May 10 2005
  

       But vaccination is a form of infection. It's made from the base virus.
waugsqueke, May 10 2005
  

       Too much time spent at the 'bakery.
normzone, May 10 2005
  

       I want my susceptibility back!
reensure, May 10 2005
  

       Correlation is not causation.
hippo, May 11 2005
  

       "If anything, there is less unhealthy food now than 10 and certainly 20 or 30 years ago."
You've been listening to marketing again. Takeaway foods are still very energy- dense and kids have more purchasing power than they did 20 or 30 years ago.
  

       That's nnot to say that there isn't another factor. Like most things the world, there's rarely one cause to any effect.
st3f, May 11 2005
  

       So, the increased range and portion size of processed (usually energy dense) foods consumed by the average Westerner compared to 20-30 years ago is irrelevant here?
Adze, May 11 2005
  

       You know, you never saw any fat kids working up chimneys or as replacement pit ponies.
calum, May 11 2005
  

       This hardly explains childhood obesity, since the vaccine has only been available since 1995--in the US, anyway....ah, okay, looking at the graph, I take it back. There does seem to be something happening in the mid 90s.

As for waug's point that vaccination is a form of infection, the antibody levels in the vaccinated fall off much faster than in those who contracted the disease.

So, if there’s something to this, a yearly vaccination might counteract obesity.
ldischler, May 11 2005
  

       Isn't that a power-law curve? As such, if you looked at any portion of it, wouldn't it look the same? i.e. Nothing special has been going on since 95, but there's been a steady geometric progression since year dot? I'd guess that as technology progresses (again following a geometric progression), making life easier (progressively) parents are born who are less and less active. (Because they no longer have to run for the bus, plough fields, or fight off mammoths etc) Since the activity level of a child is going to be some function of the activity level of the parent (at some level) then it makes sense that a reduction in activity levels 50 years ago is going to have a (delayed) but amplified effect on the lives of future generations that will continue to become more extreme until some opposing (activity increasing) force counteracts it.
zen_tom, May 11 2005
  

       //Isn't that a power-law curve?//

If you look at the curve fit they used, it is. But the choice was a poor one. The actual data show the effect starting in the 90s.
ldischler, May 11 2005
  

       I believe a decrease in public safety is also a contributing factor. I would like to let my kids do all the things I did when I was young, such as walk to school, but I fear too much for their safety.
Zimmy, May 11 2005
  

       I'm with Mr. Dischler on much of this and especially in suspecting soft drinks but I am skeptical that is any one thing. (Although, as it has been pointed out to me by a doctor, the most popular soft drink size these days, those disgusting "big gulp" drink cups, fully contain the equivalent of 70 teaspoons of sugar.)   

       Some people are just naturally thin. I am one of them and so is my husband. Of our two children, one seems to have the thin trait and the other doesn't. They both eat similar diets and portions, are physically active to much the same degree and yet one is eternally thin and the other is decidedly overweight.   

       I haven't a clue. Both of my parents and, in turn, their parents were always thin and the same is true for my husband's family with the exception of his aunt who is quite overweight.   

       It doesn't make sense.   

       Another alarming trend on a similar global explosion curve is the incidence of asthma in children. No longer is it the fairly rare malady that it was when I was a school child in the late 70's. Now it seems that every third child in my area has it, including my own son. I know that on the other side of the globe, in Oz and New Zealand, it's also become pervasive.
bristolz, May 11 2005
  

       I believe that the reason why people just keep getting fat, is the population is going up, and the result is more people being diagnosed. People aren't really getting fatter, just the number of people diagnosed with it has gone up. It's a result of the increased population.   

       My other theory is on old one most people can recognize with. As nations get richer, more people can afford food, thus more people eat more just for the heck of it. But yes I think video games do play a role in it, I myself play em as much as possible, and have put on some pounds over the past couple years.   

       Come to think of it, I rarely see any obese people at my school anyhow. Or around town much either.
EvilPickels, May 11 2005
  

       1. Portion size has gotten ridiculous.
2. Population density and the increase of suburbia has given fewer people good places to walk, or reasons to do so, as everything is designed to maximize convenience.
3. The percentage of single parenthood has pressured everyone's schedules, and so everyone eats out quite often. Just try and be a single parent and serve fresh vegetables consistently.
4. What's in our meals has changed. Foods used to be much simpler. These days, they're hyper-studied scientific corporate marketings of sugar, aspartame, and such, with only just enough protein and vegetable matter to sell the product.
RayfordSteele, May 11 2005
  

       A little research: I was interested to see if the soft drink industry has any relationship.   

       Carbonate drinks, Sucralose Soft drinks report for the UK:   

       Litres per person per year rose from 65 in 1988 up to 104 in 2002. 47% of that was cola flavour. PET bottles accounted for 64% of all volume.   

       Compare to US 204, and Europe 77 Litres per person per year in 2002.   

       Diet or light drinks account for 31% of all volume in 2002, which means that sugar based carbonate drinks have only increased from 65 to about 73 LPPPY over all those years.   

       I cannot see a clear connection, but perhaps there is a shift in who is drinking them (concentrated in the younger age group)?
Ling, May 11 2005
  

       I'm offering an all-expenses-spared virtual prize to any bakers who can spot other things that correlate with the rise in obesity. Is it possible, for instance, that USB memory-sticks are responsible?
Basepair, May 11 2005
  

       Prevalence of peanut allergies. I win!
Shz, May 11 2005
  

       Don't discount that the 1980s produced a generation that lost focus, as did the 1960s, 1940s, and 19t33ns but without the war. It takes awhile to recover control of the kids.
reensure, May 11 2005
  

       Completely disagree. No VZV vaccine here in England and loads of childhood obesity.
nineteenthly, Mar 23 2011
  

       I rather suspect that the outbreak of obesity has much to do with the increased useage of BMI as the unit of measure. Oh, and the number of fat people who aren't being eaten by lions that they can't outrun.
DrBob, Mar 23 2011
  

       I think the superabundance of cheap starchy food due to green revolution fattened.
rcarty, Mar 23 2011
  
      
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