According to an article published Monday in the American Journal of Infection Control, the alternative hand gesture Fox News once dubbed "a terrorist fist jab" is significantly more hygienic than a conventional handshake.
David Whitworth of Aberystwyth University in Wales studied the bacterial transfer from a number of common greetings, including the fist-bump, the high-five, and the handshake, and found that the fist-bump only communicates one-twentieth as much bacterial matter as a handshake and one-fifth as much as a high-five.
The reason that fist-bumps are more sanitary is simply a matter of surface area. A fist bump entails far less contact between the two hands, and for a far shorter duration.
During cold and flu season, Whitworth emphasized the importance of using a hand greeting that doesn't facilitate the transmission of bacterial and viral material -- especially in hospitals, where despite the focus placed on hand-washing, handshakes are still the most common form of greeting, according to Mary Lou Manning, president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
Despite its long history of being used as a greeting by germophobic individuals like television's Howie Mandel, when the president was first observed using the gesture in 2008, Fox News' E.D. Hill asked whether it was "a fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?" before claiming that it is a "gesture everyone seems to interpret differently."
["President Obama fist-bumps a Make-a-Wish foundation recipient" via White House Flickr stream]