WEB DESK: They say you are what you eat. But a new research suggests that what your father ate also matters.
A Danish study explains that children with over weight fathers are prone to obesity and also autism.
Experts said that it is not just mothers-to-be who have to watch what they eat, fathers need to be careful too.
In the first study of its kind, University of Copenhagen researchers put the sperm of 13 slim and ten obese men under the microscope. They focused ‘chemical marks’ on the sperm which defined appetite and brain development.
Genes which differ in the sperm of fat and thin men include some involved in appetite control and in brain development. These genes when transferred to babies decide whether the child will be over weight or not.
The good news is that these changes are not permanent.
When the team analysed the sperm of six obese men before and after weight loss surgery, the found that the chemical ‘marks’ began to alter within a week of the operation.
This led to their sperm looking more like that of thin men, the journal Cell Metabolism reports.
Researcher Romain Barrès said that more work is needed to pin down what the changes mean to the health any child that is conceived.
Dr Barrès said: ‘Our research could lead to changing behaviour, particularly pre-conception behaviour of the father.
‘It’s common knowledge that when a woman is pregnant she should take care of herself – not drink alcohol, stay away from pollutants etc.
‘But if the implication of our study holds true, then recommendations could be directed towards men too.’
British experts cautioned that just a small number of men were studied. However, they said the results were ‘provocative’ and ‘important’.
Dr Sarah Kimmins, a reproductive biologist at McGill University in Canada, said: ‘The implications for this in terms of having healthy babies are unknown. But it suggests that men need to consider what they put in their bodies and how they live their life as it may have an impact on sperm development and offspring health.’