Children of obese fathers at risk of being overweight: study
Adelaide University's Robinson Institute team has found molecular signals in the sperm of obese fathers could produce diabetes-like symptoms and obesity in two generations of offspring, even if those children consumed healthy food.
Researcher Tod Fullston said that this was the first time such a link was found.
"A father's diet changes the molecular makeup of the sperm," he was quoted by ABC News as saying.
"With obese fathers, the changes in their sperm, in their microRNA molecules, might programme the embryo for obesity or metabolic disease later in life," Fullston said.
He said research had used mice and the next step would be human trials.
"We'll be proposing to do human studies based around that very thing, whether men with a higher BMI (body mass index) do indeed have a different microRNA profile within their sperm and we'd also like to have a look at whether diet and exercise return that to what it would be in a normal weight male," he said.
The study found that the second generation could face similar metabolic disorders, including obesity, however, not a severe one.
Fullston said even if an obese father had no signs of diabetes, metabolic disease similar to diabetes could turn up in two generations of descendants.