A new study suggests that your dad’s sperm may play a role in your weight problems, if your dad also had weight issues at the moment of conception. A group of scientists said that they found epigenetic markers in fat dads’ sperm that can be used to predict their kids’ weight.
Nevertheless, researchers admitted that their study was too small – there were only 23 participants – for you to put blame on your dad for every extra whopper burger you consume. But the small study does reveal that dads should also be concerned about their prenatal health when they plan to conceive.
The study, which was published Dec. 3 in the journal Cell Metabolism, involved 10 slim dads and 13 obese dads. Participants were asked to provide sperm samples and information on their weight during conception and their kids’ weight after birth.
Researchers noticed some weird variations in genetic combinations in their sperm cells that are responsible for controlling appetite. The team explained that while genes were left unaltered, the epigenetic markers were different in the two groups of men. These markers control how genes are expressed.
The study results are consistent with the findings of mouse studies that revealed similar changes. Additionally, a 2005 study showed that grandparents who were forced to starve during famine were more likely to have grandchildren affected by heart disease and metabolic disorders.
Romain Barres, senior researcher involved in the study and scientist at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research in Denmark, explained that in the 2005 research health problems noticed in offspring were not the result of a genetic mutation because things unfolded too fast.
But that old study didn’t analyze epigenetic markers as the latest one did. The study only found a cellular mechanism that may explain why offspring of obese men tend to eat more or are prone to gain weight.
A follow-up study of six obese men showed that after weight loss surgery 55 percent of the 9,000 sperm cell markers that are linked to weight gain and obesity vanished in a single year after surgery.
On the other hand, researchers acknowledged that they don’t know whether the change in the markers was caused by weight loss, inflammation caused by the procedure, the procedure itself, or a reduction of stomach size.
Barres believes that the environment can greatly affect the development of the human embryo and how babies will develop. But more research needs to be conducted to confirm whether there is a genuine cause-and-effect link between obesity in dads and weight problems in their offspring.
Image Source: Pixabay
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