A study was recently conducted on male fruit flies to see if there is a link between a father’s high sugar diet and obesity in offspring. The results showed that it is indeed possible, and while most research focuses on mom’s health, the state of dad’s health during conception and fetal development can play a role.
This research spurred scientists to determine if certain metabolic traits can be altered to help promote better health in a fetus and newborn baby, despite the overall health of the parents who created the offspring.
How are traits inherited?
Children inherit genes and traits from both mom and dad, and understanding the method of inheritance is important for helping to promote the optimal health of offspring. Alleles are pairs of genes, and all genes come in pairs. Offspring get an allele from each parent, and these combine to make a genotype. Genotype determines a person’s phenotype, or physical characteristics. This includes many traits, such as hair and eye color, blood type and skin color.
Traits come in recessive and dominant forms. The dominant type means that the gene is expressed when there is only one copy. For example, offspring have a 50 percent chance of inheriting a dominant trait if one parent has it. Two copies must be expressed for a recessive trait to appear.
Examining the research
If a man eats a lot of sugar, this may lead to body composition changes in his offspring. This is due to the high amount of sugar increasing gene expression via epigenetic changes. This does not alter the underlying sequence of DNA while it affects gene activity.
For example, if the genes in the body are hardware, the software is the epigenetics. This means that epigenetics makes the decisions as to how the body uses the hardware. The software, or in this case epigenetics, is reprogrammed by a man’s high sugar diet.
In a man’s future sons, this turns on the genes responsible for the production of fat. Researchers are looking at altering epigenetics in young children to see if they can stop this effect. However, they are unsure if this manipulation will be possible in an adult body. Because of this, it is important to know the risks – which in this case are men eating large amounts of sugar – and work to reduce them.
While this research was short and conducted on fruit flies, scientists believe that the results could potentially be similar in humans. This means that the diets consumed by mom and dad can affect any children that they may have. This is believed to be true whether or not the parents have health issues. For example, a perfectly healthy man can eat a lot of sugar and potentially contribute to his children becoming obese, even if he himself is not obese or suffering from conditions like diabetes.
The simple solution? If you and your partner are trying to have a baby, it may be highly beneficial if you BOTH lay off the sugar!
-The Alternative Daily