As goes the old saying, ‘ like father, like son’ and this also holds true if you have an obese father. A new study has revealed that ‘dad’s obesity can be inherited by generations.’
New research from the University of Adelaide shows that the sperm of obese fathers could increase the risk of both their children and their grandchildren to inherit obesity.
In laboratory studies, researchers from the University’s Robinson Institute have found that molecular signals in the sperm of obese fathers can lead to obesity and diabetes-like symptoms in two generations of offspring, even though the offspring are eating healthily.
“A father’s diet changes the molecular makeup of the sperm. With obese fathers, the changes in their sperm – in their microRNA molecules – might program the embryo for obesity or metabolic disease later in life,” the lead author of the paper, Dr Tod Fullston said.
Dr Fullston says even if the obese father does not show any signs of diabetes, metabolic disease similar to diabetes was being seen in two generations of their descendants.
“For female offspring, there is an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. What we’ve also found is that there is an increased chance of both male and female offspring developing metabolic disease similar to type 2 diabetes.
“A focus on the mother’s health is extremely important, but we’re seeing that the father’s health is also important for conception. It’s possible that by showing additional attention to diet and exercise in the father, this could have a positive impact on his future children and grandchildren.”
Carried on to second generation:
The study also extended into the second generation of progeny, which showed signs of similar metabolic disorders, including obesity, although it was not as severe as the first generation.
The results of the research were published online in The FASEB Journal.