There is now even more reason to watch our waistlines.
A man’s weight seems to influence gene activity in his sperm, which could leave his children predisposed to obesity.
So far, research into how obesity passes between generations has focused on mothers and their diet before or during pregnancy. However, a new study suggests that the father’s health may also be important.
Romain Barres and colleagues, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, found striking differences in the sperm of 13 lean and 10 moderately obese men. Specifically, they discovered a pattern of genetic markers in the sperm of obese men involved in the control of genes associated with appetite and brain development. These patterns were absent in lean men.
It is unclear whether these markers may influence the weight of future children. Most markers carried in sperm are erased during the fertilisation process, although some research suggests a small percentage can slip through the net.
This research suggests we are the product of what both our mother and father ate, and not just what out mother ate.
New Scientist (2015) Can Men Pass On ‘Fat’ Gene. New Scientist. 12 December 2015, p.18.