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The obesity epidemic: contagious?
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Divine Wind
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PostPosted: 31-01-2006 18:16    Post subject: The obesity epidemic: contagious? Reply with quote

Big assed piece article but I thought it worth reporducing the lot:

Catching Obesity: Identifying Viruses That May Make Us Fat

Do human adenoviruses cause obesity? Is a vaccine possible?Researcher advises: ‘Eat right, exercise, wash your hands’

BETHESDA, Md. (Jan. 30, 2006) – There is a lot of good advice to help us avoid becoming obese, such as “Eat less,” and “Exercise.” But here’s a new and surprising piece of advice based on a promising area of obesity research: “Wash your hands.”

There is accumulating evidence that certain viruses may cause obesity, in essence making obesity contagious, according to Leah D. Whigham, the lead researcher in a new study, “Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals,” in the January issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published by the American Physiological Society.

The study, by Whigham, Barbara A. Israel and Richard L. Atkinson, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that the human adenovirus Ad-37 causes obesity in chickens. This finding builds on studies that two related viruses, Ad-36 and Ad-5, also cause obesity in animals.

Moreover, Ad-36 has been associated with human obesity, leading researchers to suspect that Ad-37 also may be implicated in human obesity. Whigham said more research is needed to find out if Ad-37 causes obesity in humans. One study was inconclusive, because only a handful of people showed evidence of infection with Ad-37 – not enough people to draw any conclusions, she said. Ad-37, Ad-36 and Ad-5 are part of a family of approximately 50 viruses known as human adenoviruses.

Researchers now must:

    * dentify the viruses that cause human obesity

    * devise a screening test to identify people who are infected

    * develop a vaccine

Screening test and vaccine still a long way off

The Whigham et al. study prompted an editorial in the same issue of AJP-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology by Frank Greenway, professor in the Department of Clinical Trials, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

“If Ad-36 is responsible for a significant portion of human obesity, the logical therapeutic intervention would be to develop a vaccine to prevent future infections,” Greenway wrote. “If a vaccine were to be developed, one would want to ensure that all the serotypes of human adenoviruses responsible for human obesity were covered in the vaccine.”

“If one could predict the potential of an adenovirus to cause human obesity by using an in vitro assay or even by animal testing, screening of the approximately 50 human adenoviruses might be accelerated, shortening the time required for vaccine formulation," Greenway wrote. “Human antibody prevalence in obese and lean human populations appears to be the only reliable method to screen adenoviruses for their potential to cause obesity in humans at the present time,” he noted.

Obesity contagion theory slow to catch on

The notion that viruses can cause obesity has been a contentious one among scientists, Whigham said. And yet, there is evidence that factors other than poor diet or lack of exercise may be at work in the obesity epidemic. “The prevalence of obesity has doubled in adults in the United States in the last 30 years and has tripled in children,” the study noted. “With the exception of infectious diseases, no other chronic disease in history has spread so rapidly, and the etiological factors producing this epidemic have not been clearly identified.”

“It makes people feel more comfortable to think that obesity stems from lack of control,” Whigham said. “It’s a big mental leap to think you can ‘catch’ obesity.” However, other diseases once thought to be the product of environmental factors are now known to stem from infectious agents. For example, ulcers were once thought to be the result of stress, but researchers eventually implicated bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, as a cause.

“The nearly simultaneous increase in the prevalence of obesity in most countries of the world is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed,” the study said. “The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research.”

Ad-37 third virus implicated in animal obesity

The theory that viruses could play a part in obesity began a few decades ago when Nikhil Dhurandhar, now at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU, noticed that chickens in India infected with the avian adenovirus SMAM-1 had significantly more fat than non-infected chickens. The discovery was intriguing because the explosion of human obesity, even in poor countries, has led to suspicions that overeating and lack of exercise weren’t the only culprits in the rapidly widening human girth. Since then, Ad-36 has been found to be more prevalent in obese humans.

In the current study, Whigham et al. attempted to determine which adenoviruses (in addition to Ad-36 and Ad-5) might be associated with obesity in chickens. The animals were separated into four groups and exposed to either Ad-2, Ad-31, or Ad-37. There was also a control group that was not exposed to any of the viruses. The researchers measured food intake and tracked weight over three weeks before ending the experiment and measuring the chickens’ visceral fat, total body fat, serum lipids, and viral antibodies.

Chickens inoculated with Ad-37 had much more visceral fat and body fat compared with the chickens infected with Ad-2, Ad-31 or the control group, even though they didn’t eat any more. The Ad-37 group was also generally heavier compared to the other three groups, but the difference wasn’t great enough to be significant by scientific standards.

The authors concluded that Ad-37 increases obesity in chickens, but Ad-2 and Ad-31 do not. “Ad-37 is the third human adenovirus to increase adiposity in animals, but not all adenoviruses produce obesity,” the study concluded.

There is still much to learn about how these viruses work, Whigham said. “There are people and animals that get infected and don’t get fat. We don’t know why,” she said. Among the possibilities: the virus hasn’t been in the body long enough to produce the additional fat; or the virus creates a tendency to obesity that must be triggered by overeating, she said.

Mass screening for these viruses is impractical right now because there is no simple blood test available that would quickly identify exposure to a suspect virus, Whigham et al. said. More work is needed to develop such a test, Whigham said.

Source, funding and disclosure

“Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals,” by Leah D. Whigham and Richard L. Atkinson of the Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Barbara A. Israel of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, is in the January issue of the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published by the American Physiological Society.

Research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Beers-Murphy Clinical Nutrition Center, University of Wisconsin. Atkinson, now at the Virginia Commonwealth University, owns all shares of Obetech LLC, a company that markets assays to detect infection with human adenovirus-36 and owns patent rights for these assays.

I was also reminded of this:

Do you know what the number one health risk in America is?
Obesity. They say we're in the middle of an obesity epidemic.
An epidemic like it is polio. Like we'll be telling our grand kids about it one day.
The Great Obesity Epidemic of 2004.
"How'd you get through it grandpa?"
"Oh, it was horrible Johnny, there was cheesecake and pork chops everywhere."

Lazyboy - Underwear goes inside the pants
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Justified and Ancient
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PostPosted: 31-01-2006 20:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm - one is reminded of what Dennis Leary had to say about obesity being casued by a virus... Wink
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PostPosted: 01-02-2006 09:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had an intuition about a virus being a factor in obesity many years back, but I'm not in any position to do research.

I also have a feeling that a big contributor to obesity is corn (maize), especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. See
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Keeping the British end up
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PostPosted: 24-07-2006 16:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Percentage obsese (2 to 3 stone overweight apparently):

Country % Men % Women
Finland 19 19
Russia 10.8 27.9
England 17 20
Germany 17.2 19.3
Czech Republic 16.3 20.2
Scotland 15.9 17.3
Belgium 12.1 18.4
Spain 11.5 15.2
Sweden 10 11.9
France 9.6 10.5
Denmark 10 9
Netherlands 8.4 8.3
Italy 6.5 6.3
USA 19.5 25
Australia 18 18

English women are doing us proud but we've quite a way to go before we reach the superleagues of the US and Russia.
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Defrost indoors
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PostPosted: 02-08-2006 05:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

Irrelevant trivia: poor women are more likely to be obese, while poor men more likely to be underweight. Works in reverse as you go up the socioeconomic scale.
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PostPosted: 02-08-2006 13:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leaferne wrote:
Irrelevant trivia: poor women are more likely to be obese, while poor men more likely to be underweight. Works in reverse as you go up the socioeconomic scale.

According to that, I must be extremely wealthy. I'm 7 stones overweight.
Perhaps I should go and live in Tonga - I'd get more respect there.
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 05-01-2007 15:43    Post subject: Obesity and bacteria Reply with quote

Obesity and bacteria

Greedy guts?

Jan 4th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Every week seems to bring a new theory about why people are getting fatter. The latest is that intestinal microbes are partly to blame

ALTHOUGH most people prefer not to think about it, human guts are full of bacteria. And a good thing, too. These intestinal bugs help digestion, and also stop their disease-causing counterparts from invading. In return, their human hosts provide them with a warm place to live and a share of their meals. It is a symbiotic relationship that has worked well for millions of years.

Now it is working rather too well. A group of researchers led by Jeffrey Gordon, of the Washington University School of Medicine, in St Louis, has found that some types of microbes are a lot better than others at providing usable food to their hosts. In the past, when food was scarce, those who harboured such microbes would have been blessed. These days, paradoxically, they are cursed, for the extra food seems to contribute to obesity. Worse still, these once-benign microbes have even subtler effects, regulating the functioning of human genes and inducing the bodies of their hosts to lay down more fat than would otherwise be the case.

Dr Gordon's research is outlined in a paper published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and two others published last month in Nature. In the Nature papers, he and his team reported that obese people have a different mix of gut microbes from that found in lean people—a mix that is more efficient at unlocking energy from the food they consume. Although individuals can harbour up to a thousand different types of microbes, more than 90% of these belong to one or other of two groups, called Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. The researchers sequenced bacterial DNA from faecal samples taken from volunteers and discovered that those who were obese had a higher proportion of Firmicutes than lean people did.

Bugs in the system
This also turned out to be true in mice, and working with these rodents, the researchers discovered that the types of Firmicute found in obese animals are more efficient at converting complex polysaccharides (a form of carbohydrate that mammals have a hard time digesting by themselves) into simple, usable sugars such as glucose. In effect, the Firmicutes made more energy available from the same amount of food. The researchers were even able to make mice that had been raised in a germ-free environment fatter or thinner by colonising their guts with microbes from either obese or lean mice.

It sounds simple enough. Unfortunately, further probing showed that the story is a little more complicated, for Dr Gordon did not merely count the gut bacteria of fat and thin people—he then put some of the fat ones on a diet. As these once-obese humans lost weight over the course of a year, their mix of gut microbes changed to reflect their new, svelte status. Why this happened is not clear. It does not seem to have been a result of the composition of the diet, since the effect was the same whether people lost weight with a low-fat diet or a low-carbohydrate diet. Nevertheless, this part of the experiment suggests it is weight that determines gut biodiversity, not the other way round.

The paper published in PNAS, though, supports the idea that the bacterial mixture is cause not effect, by adding yet another element to the story. In this study, Dr Gordon took normal mice and germ-free mice, and fed both groups a “Western” diet that was high in fat and sugar. The normal mice gained weight; the germ-free mice stayed lean.

Part of the reason was that the normal mice had microbes that made more useful sugar available. But the researchers looked more closely and found that there was even more going on. By comparing the two kinds of mice, they discovered that the gut microbes in the regular mice were tinkering with their hosts' metabolisms, regulating them in at least two different ways.

First, they suppressed production by the mice's bodies of a substance called fasting-induced adipose factor. This encouraged the mice to store fat. Second, they caused lower levels of another substance, called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, which made it harder for them to burn fat that they had already accumulated. The upshot is that gut microbes not only release energy from food, they also encourage bodies to store that energy as fat and to keep the fat on.

The practical upshot of this is hard to see at the moment. But if these two suppression mechanisms could, themselves, be suppressed, that might stop people putting on weight. The findings do, however, emphasise how profound the relationship is between people and their gut bacteria. These bacteria can be thought of as an additional digestive organ. Alternatively, humans might view themselves as a sort of collective organism—a human casing surrounding a vast colony of microbes. It is just a pity that this colony is working so hard on behalf of its casing that, in an era when food comes from the supermarket rather than the savannah, the result is rather too good.
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Great Old One
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PostPosted: 05-01-2007 17:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would prove interesting if they studied the antibiotic restistance of these bacteria. If they are resistant to antibiotics commonly used for cases of childhood infections then they would begin to predominate in the gut early on in the individuals life leading to them making any other tendencies to obesity so much worse.
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Defrost indoors
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PostPosted: 05-01-2007 19:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must be unusual because I don't recall ever taking antibiotics until I was in my 20s (for strep throat); I may have been given them when I had tonsillitis at age seven but then again, I don't remember being given a lot of pills at that time either. Nowadays kids seem to be on ABs all the bloody time. Confused
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Piffle Prospector
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PostPosted: 05-01-2007 19:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The paper published in PNAS, though, supports the idea that the bacterial mixture is cause not effect, by adding yet another element to the story. In this study, Dr Gordon took normal mice and germ-free mice, and fed both groups a “Western” diet that was high in fat and sugar. The normal mice gained weight; the germ-free mice stayed lean."

Eureka! There's a pill we need. Eat filth, stay slim! Confused
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PostPosted: 25-02-2007 10:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fat boy may be put in care

Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Correspondent

AN eight-year-old boy who weighs 14 stone, more than three times the average for his age, may be taken into care if his mother fails to improve his diet.

Connor McCreaddie, from Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, has broken four beds and five bicycles. The family claims to have a history of intolerance to fruit or vegetables.

On Tuesday his mother and grandmother will attend a formal child protection conference to decide his future, which could lead to proceedings to take him into care.

Connor could be placed on the child protection register, along with victims of physical and sexual abuse, or on the less serious children in need register.

The intervention of social services is a landmark in the fight against youth obesity.

The boy’s mother, Nicola McKeown, said: “If Connor gets taken into care that is the worst scenario there could be. Hopefully, we will be able to work through it and come up with a good plan and he will just be put on the at-risk register or some other register. That wouldn’t be so bad because, hopefully, there will be some help for us at the end of it.”

Two specialist obesity nurses, a consultant paediatrician, the deputy head of Connor’s school, a police officer and at least two social workers are expected to be on the panel deciding what action should be taken.

One National Health Service source said: “We have attempted many times to arrange for Connor to have appointments with community and paediatric nutritionists, public health experts, school nurses and social workers to weigh and measure him and to address his diet, but the appointments have been missed.

“Taking the child into care or putting him on the child protection register is absolutely the last resort. We do not do these things lightly but we have got to consider what effect this life-style is having on his health. Child abuse is not just about hitting your children or sexually abusing them, it is also about neglect.”

The source added: “The long-term health effects of obesity such as diabetes are well known and it is concerning that Connor is more than twice the weight he should be. There has to be some parental responsibility.”

McKeown will appear on Tonight with Trevor McDonald on ITV tomorrow.
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PostPosted: 26-02-2007 14:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner wrote:
...The family claims to have a history of intolerance to fruit or vegetables...

Not liking the taste, and being too bone idle to find a healthy alternative is [b]not[/] an intolerance. Mad

rynner wrote:
...The boy’s mother, Nicola McKeown, said: “If Connor gets taken into care that is the worst scenario there could be. Hopefully, we will be able to work through it and come up with a good plan and he will just be put on the at-risk register or some other register. That wouldn’t be so bad because, hopefully, there will be some help for us at the end of it.”...

Having seen her on breakfast TV this morning the help should be cookery lessons, and how to say no to her kids once in a while.
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PostPosted: 26-02-2007 17:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The Big Ballet"

"A comedy ballet of weighty elegance and adorable humour"

Perm, the academy's home town, is a beautiful city with over two million inhabitants in the Urals. The city boasts a long tradition of music and ballet - a first-class ballet company has been based here permanently since 1820. The training and work at the Perm Ballet Academy are decisively influenced by the works of Peter Tchaikovsky and by Serge Diaghlev, the genius of the "Ballets Russes“, who both lived in Perm.

A ballet like no other ever seen in the UK before, Amande Concerts presents The Big Ballet, an ensemble of 16 Corps de Ballet dancers, each weighing no less than 220 pounds and united in a common cause; not to lose a single pound.

From Russia's Ural mountains, the 2500 km-long region from where two of the ballet world's pre-eminent geniuses Peter I. Tchaikovsky and Serge Diaghilev also hail, The Big Ballet formed in 1994 and set out to deliberately and, above all, self-confidently challenge accepted social standards in a world where the pursuit of slenderness and beauty seems obsessive. The dancers courageously and imposingly prove that grace, elegance, charisma and nimbleness is not the demesne of the "thin", proudly presenting their voluptuous yet surprisingly sinuous and flexible figures.

These ladies enchant their audiences with three different classical and modern ballet pieces in a hilarious comedy show full of fun and astonishing choreography, proving that you shouldn't take life, or yourself, too seriously.

Enjoy the show! It will both surprise and thrill you!
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Justified and Ancient
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PostPosted: 04-03-2007 12:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting angle on the obesity epidemic.

Obesity is generally discussed in terms of caloric intake (how much a person eats) and energy output (how much a person exercises). However, according to a University of Missouri-Columbia scientist, environmental chemicals found in everyday plastics and pesticides also may influence obesity. Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences in MU's College of Arts and Science, has found that when fetuses are exposed to these chemicals, the way their genes function may be altered to make them more prone to obesity and disease.

"Certain environmental substances called endocrine-disrupting chemicals can change the functioning of a fetus's genes, altering a baby's metabolic system and predisposing him or her to obesity. This individual could eat the same thing and exercise the same amount as someone with a normal metabolic system, but he or she would become obese, while the other person remained thin. This is a serious problem because obesity puts people at risk for other problems, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension," vom Saal said.

Using lab mice, vom Saal has studied the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including bisphenol-A, which recently made news in San Francisco, where controversy has ensued over an ordinance that seeks to ban its use in children's products. In vom Saal's recent study, which he will present at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals cause mice to be born at very low birth weights and then gain abnormally large amounts of weight in a short period of time, more than doubling their body weight in just seven days. Vom Saal followed the mice as they got older and found that these mice were obese throughout their lives. He said studies of low-birth-weight children have shown a similar overcompensation after birth, resulting in lifelong obesity.

"The babies are born with a low body weight and a metabolic system that's been programmed for starvation. This is called a 'thrifty phenotype,' a system designed to maximize the use of all food taken into the body. The problem comes when the baby isn't born into a world of starvation, but into a world of fast food restaurants and fatty foods," vom Saal said.

More research must be done to determine which chemicals cause this effect. According to vom Saal, there are approximately 55,000 manmade chemicals in the world, and 1,000 of those might fall into the category of endocrine disrupting. These chemicals are found in common products, from plastic bottles and containers to pesticides and electronics.

"You inherit genes, but how those genes develop during your very early life also plays an important role in your propensity for obesity and disease. People who have abnormal metabolic systems have to live extremely different lifestyles in order to not be obese because their systems are malfunctioning," vom Saal said. "We need to figure out what we can do to understand and prevent this."

"Perinatal Programming of Obesity: Interaction of Nutrition and Environmental Exposures" is the title of vom Saal's AAAS presentation. Also presenting with vom Saal at the AAAS symposium are Reth Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Bruce Blumberg of the University of California-Irvine, George Corcoran of Wayne State University and James O'Callaghan of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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PostPosted: 09-03-2007 09:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mexican who once weighed half a tonne leaves home for first time in five years
(Monica Rueda/AP)

Manuel Uribe, who once weighed half a tonne, left his house yesterday for the first time in five years.

Six people pushed Mr Uribe’s wheel-equipped iron bed onto the street, as a mariachi band played and a crowd gathered to see the man – thought to be the world’s heaviest – who once weighed 560kg (88st).

“The sky is beautiful and blue and what I want is to enjoy the sun,” Mr Uribe said after taking a sip from a bottle of champagne.

Unable to leave his bed for more than five years, the 6ft 3ins divorcee has lost 180kg (28st) since he began a high-protein diet a year ago. He now weighs about 380kg (60st).

To celebrate the milestone, a forklift lifted Mr Uribe’s bed onto a trailer pulled by a pickup truck and the 41-year-old former mechanic rode through the streets of San Nicolas de los Garza, a Monterrey suburb.

Dozens of reporters and photographers followed Mr Uribe as he passed the town’s plaza and church, waving at crowds of onlookers eager to get a glimpse of him.

“It fills me with joy to see he’s getting better and getting a little sun,” Mr Uribe’s neighbor Guadalupe Guerra said. “I would go crazy if I had to be inside my house for so many years.”

Mr Uribe was a chubby child, weighing more than 115kg (18st) as an adolescent. In 1992, he said his weight began ballooning further.

Since the summer of 2002, Mr Uribe has been bedridden, relying on his mother and friends to feed and clean him. He keeps a television and a computer he uses to update his Web site near his iron bed.

He drew worldwide attention when he pleaded for help on national television in January 2006. Afterwards, Italian and Spanish doctors visited and offered him gastric bypass surgery.

But Mr Uribe chose to accept help from Mexican nutritionists working with the Zone diet. He said he will stick to that diet until he reaches his goal weight of 120kg (18st).

He said: “My goal is to leave the house on my own but I know that will be a long process.” Doctors say it may take between three and four years for him to reach his goal.

The Zone diet, conceived by American nutritionist Barry Sears, advocates a 40:30:30 split of calories obtained from carbohydrates, proteins and fats respectively to promote a “hormonal balance” said to boost energy levels and cut excess weight.

Mr Uribe said: "People think that I can eat a whole cow but it's not just over-eating, it's also a hormonal problem."

He plans to start a foundation to help overweight people get medical assistance and teach them about healthy eating habits.

Guinness World of Records could not confirm Mr Uribe’s weight, but said they do not have details of any living person weighing more than 380kg on record.

Jon Brower Minnoch, of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who died in 1983 aged 42, holds the record for world’s heaviest ever man at more than 100st.
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