Study Shows Obesity Could be Contagious

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Contagious Obesity

A study published in the journal Nature claims that obesity could spread from person to person just like the contagious bug C.difficile. The research undertaken at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, reports of the transmission of gut bacteria from overweight people to slimmer people.

Scientists believe that this transmission is possible as bacteria can lie dormant in spores for long periods of time in a state of bacterial hibernation. This implies that bacteria can survive outside the body and potentially get transferred between people by being ingested. Researchers discovered that approximately one third of gut microbiota from a healthy person survives in the open air. Many of these bacteria are sensitive to oxygen and therefore studying them had been a difficult task until now.

 “Being able to cast light on this microbial ‘dark matter’ has implications for the whole of biology and how we consider health”, said Dr Trevor Lawley, group leader at the Sanger Institute. “The extensive database of genomes we have generated from these bacteria is also essential for studying which bacteria are present or absent in people with gastrointestinal conditions. Now we can start to design mixtures of therapeutics candidates for use in these diseases,” said Dr Sam Foster from the Sanger Institute. The study further noted that certain diseases could be passed not just through human genetics but also via the microbiome.

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