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Children of obese men may inherit obesity, study shows

MRPeter Dazeley/Getty Images

More than 79 million adults are obese in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Blame your dad for being fat.

Obese men carry sperm with modified genes that can be passed on to their young — predisposing them to trouble with weight gain, according to a study published Thursday.

Researchers in Denmark found “epigenetic marks” — or heritable changes in genetic material — in the sperm cells of obese men, suggesting that children can derive obesity-related traits from overweight fathers.

“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 consequently offspring health,” said Dr. Sarah Kimmins, Associate Director at the McGill Centre for the Study of Reproduction.

The sample for the study — published in the journal Cell Metabolism — was very small.

Epigenetic study examined the sperm of 13 lean men and compared it to that from 10 who are obeseDonkin and Versteyhe et al./Cell Metabolism 2015

Epigenetic study examined the sperm of 13 lean men and compared it to that from 10 who are obese

The experts examined the sperm of 13 lean men and compared it to that from 10 who are obese — excluding anyone with sperm abnormalities.

They noticed the sperm cells of obese men were modified particularly in gene regions that control appetite.

Implications point that environmental stressors like gaining weight are likely to influence changes in the genetic material.

In the study, the authors also collected the sperm of six obese men who were undergoing gastric bypass-induced weight loss surgery — identifying changes in their sperm before and after treatment.

NRSvisio/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Implications point that environmental stressors like gaining weight are likely to influence changes in the genetic material.

But weight loss also induces changes in the sperm cells’ genetic material.

“The pre- and post-surgery comparison is particularly interesting, and will have direct implications on how obesity could alter the epigenomic landscape (gene modification) in sperm,” said Dr. Peng Jin, Professor of Human Genetics at Emory University School of Medicine.

The researchers are currently conducting further research with a fertility clinic.

mstumpf@nydailynews.com

Tags:
men’s health ,
parenting ,
health studies

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