Need a New Reason to Lose Weight?
Husbands and fathers have a new reason to worry about maintaining a healthy body weight. Women have been doing it for ages—worrying about their body weight, that is—for any number of reasons. While most women would argue they’d like to lose weight to look and feel better, men tend to care a little less about appearances.
Of course, maintaining a healthy body weight is a good idea because it’s better for your health. Obesity and overweight have been linked repeatedly to greater risks of several dangerous conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Being obese is not good for you by any stretch of the imagination.
Now there’s an added incentive for men to get serious about weight control: New research out of Australia suggests that obese men may actually undergo genetic changes that could result in them fathering fatter offspring. While the research used a mouse model of obesity, investigators worry that this effect may hold true in humans, too. If so, it would mean that diet-induced obesity doesn’t just result in a man who can no longer fit into his jeans. Rather, his obesity may actually alter his genes, causing him to pass along a tendency towards overweight or obesity, for at least two generations.
The Australian’s research suggests that paternal obesity alters the expression of sperm micro and messenger RNA. While genetic information in DNA is essentially “set in stone,” the expression of the codes it contains can be modified by the environment. The present research suggests obesity can alter the expression of genes related to a child’s tendency to grow fat cells.
Fullston T, Ohlsson Teague EM, Palmer NO, Deblasio MJ, Mitchell M, Corbett M, et al. Paternal obesity initiates metabolic disturbances in two generations of mice with incomplete penetrance to the F2 generation and alters the transcriptional profile of testis and sperm microRNA content. FASEB J. 2013 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print]