Study finds little evidence of link between obesity, HSV infections

26 Oct 2016

There is no consistent evidence that excessive adiposity is strongly related to herpes simplex virus (HSV) in adults, according to a recent study.

Researchers used multicycle data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999 to 2012) and examined the serological information for HSV1 and HSV2 from 5,227 men and 4,441 women aged 20 to 49 years. The exposure measures were obesity and abdominal obesity.

In general, excessive adiposity was not associated with either HSV1 or HSV2 in men (all p>0.05).

However, positive correlations between the excessive adiposity and HSV seroprevalence were observed in certain age and birth cohort groups.

On age–period–cohort analysis, abdominally obese men aged 30 to 40 years were nearly 20 percent as likely as abdominally non-obese men of the same age to be HSV1 seropositive (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR], 1.18; 95 percent CI, 1.10 to 1.27). Moreover, men with large waist circumference who were born before 1962 or after 1979 were 28 percent as likely as those with normal waist circumference in the same birth cohorts to be HSV2 seropositive (aPR, 1.28; 1.17 to 1.54).

On the other hand, a large waist circumference was correlated with a slight increase in the seroprevalence of HSV1, but not HSV2, in women (aPR, 1.07; 1.01 to 1.13). Similarly, abdominal obesity showed a strong association with HSV2 seropositivity in subgroups of women participating in the earliest survey cycle (aPR, 1.41; 1.12 to 1.78) but not in other survey periods.

The presence of substantial subgroup effects that varied by age, calendar time, and birth cohort, suggests that early reports based on one or few survey cycles might not be readily generalisable.

Prospective investigations must be carried out in order to provide definitive evidence and further elucidate the potential bidirectional association between excessive adiposity and HSV infection, researchers said.

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