New research suggests you may be able to catch obesity from overweight people.

For a long time now, researchers have known that a person’s weight isn’t just determined by the amount of calories they consume and the exercise they do. Your body weight is so much more complex than that. Your liver, your thyroid and your reproductive hormones all affect your ability to lose weight. We also know that the composition of your gut bugs influences your body weight, and I have written about this topic before.

This particular new study is very interesting. New research from the United Kingdom has found you may be able to catch obesity from people. A study published in the journal Nature by scientists from the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute has found that a third of the spores produced by human gut bacteria can actually survive out in the open air. So wherever you go, you take a cloud of your bacteria with you, which surrounds you and also people you come in close contact with.

So that means the people you are exposed to will affect the composition of your own microbial balance. Inhaling specific bacteria from overweight people may alter your own gut bugs in a way that predisposes you to weight gain. The scientists said that the alteration in your microbial balance can also predispose you to other health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease; both highly dependent on gut microbiota.

This is a good reminder to keep your own gut as healthy as possible. If you have high levels of beneficial bugs growing in your gut, they function like an army, keeping harmful bugs out. Sugar acts like a fertilizer for bad bugs, so it’s important to keep your intake to a minimum. Eating fermented foods and taking a probiotic are good ways to keep your gut happy.