Researchers from the University''s Robinson Institute have found that molecular signals in the sperm of obese fathers can increase the risk of both their children and their grandchildren inheriting obesity, even though they 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.
“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,” Fullston asserted.
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.
Dr Fullston said that 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.
The results of the research are published online in The FASEB Journal.