Men's weight affects genes passed on by sperm, shows study

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Did you know that a man's weight affects genes in his sperm that determine a child's appetite and brain development?

Parents want to give their offspring the best start in life to set them up for success. This is why they are more than willing to buy organic baby food and sign them up for sports classes.

But what if raising healthy kids starts before they are even conceived? That is what a new study from Denmark has uncovered.

We all acknowledge that eating right and exercising will improve our personal health, but this research shows that a man's weight affects genes passed on by his sperm to his future children.

Although the genetic code remains the same, there were "epigenetic changes" to the genes that have been linked to appetite control and brain development. This means that the mechanisms that determine which genes are expressed change right along with a man's body weight.

The Study

The first part of the study involved comparing the sperm of lean and obese men. Researchers saw different epigenetic marks differentiating the two groups, which really is not much of a surprise.

It was the second part of the study that was more revealing: The sperm of six men were analyzed before (while they were still considered obese), one week after they underwent a weight-loss procedure called a gastric-bypass surgery and one year after (by then, they had each lost about 60lbs).

Just one week after the surgery, 3,000 epigenetic mark changes were detected in the men's sperm. One year later, the figure rose to more than 5,000!

The Conclusion

While more studies are needed, Associate Professor Romain Barrès concludes, "Weight loss in fathers may influence the eating behaviour of their future children."

In a separate interview, Dr. Ida Donkin adds, "Hopefully, in the long run, an increased public awareness of the impact of our pre-conceptional behavior can help us prevent inheritance of especially metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes."

It is more obvious that women should take care of themselves before, during and after pregnancy, but men must also be aware that their lifestyle choices have an impact on their future children's health.

READ: Should I be Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

How did you and your partner prepare before conceiving?

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