Dad's weight and health at conception can cause obesity in offspring


More evidence has emerged that a father's eating habits and weight at the time of conception can affect the metabolic health of his offspring.

A report published in The FASEB Journal showed that diabetic, obese male rats who ate a high-fat diet were more likely to have offspring with altered gene expression in two critical metabolic tissues: pancreas and fat. These changes, the researchers said, can increase the offspring's risk of future obesity and premature aging.

"While scientists have focused on how the maternal diet affects children's health, this study is part of exciting new research exploring the impact of paternal diet on offspring risk of obesity," said Margaret Morris, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Pharmacology School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The study

Morris and her colleagues studied two groups of male rats: one that was obese, diabetic and fed a high-fat diet, and another that was lean, healthy and fed a normal diet. The rats were mated with healthy, lean female rats and the offspring were examined for specific health markers that might predispose them to disease.

The rats born to obese fathers showed a poor ability to respond to glucose control, even when they were fed a healthy diet. The offspring showed gene expression changes in pancreatic islets, which help to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar.

"For a long time, we've known that the nutrition and health status of women who are pregnant or who want to get pregnant is critical to the health of her offspring, and we've also suspected that the same is true for fathers to a lesser degree," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This report is the first step in understanding exactly how the nutrition and health of fathers affects his children, for better or worse."

Source: Science Daily

Image courtesy of Ambro/


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