What Your Parents Ate Before You Were Born Might Affect Your Risk of Obesity And Diabetes
It's well-known that the food your parents eat and the kind of kitchen they run when you're growing up can have a major impact on how your own dietary health pans out, but what about their eating habits before you were even born?
New research in mice has found that the food parents eat before their offspring come into the world can also end up affecting the next generation's health. In the study, researchers found that mice fed a high-fat diet rendered their offspring more susceptible to developing obesity and diabetes – even when the babies were carried by and born to healthy surrogate mothers, ruling out the impact of any subsequent behaviour on the part of the biological parents during pregnancy and thereafter.
The study provides the latest evidence of epigenetics – the remarkable and somewhat counterintuitive science that explains how we can inherit some traits via external or environmental factors in addition to the genetic information encoded in our DNA.
"From the perspective of basic research, this study is so important because it proves for the first time that an acquired metabolic disorder can be passed on epigenetically to the offspring via oocytes and sperm," said researcher Johannes Beckers from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health.
To isolate whether parental diets in themselves could affect offspring health outside of a behavioural context, the researchers fed groups of genetically identical mice one of three diets: high fat, low fat, or standard lab chow. After six weeks, the mice on high-fat food had become obese and showed an impaired tol Continue reading