Claim: Obesity causes genetic changes that are passed on to offspring

This is junk science because…

… from the researchers own words:

By comparing small RNA molecules (microRNAs) in sperm from the obese mice as compared to the control mice, researchers deduced that changes in these molecules might be partly responsible for the transmission of these conditions from father to offspring. [Emphasis added]

“Might be partly responsible”? Sorry, that’s a long way from Tipperary…

The media release is below.

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Obese dads pass on predisposition to obesity and metabolic disorders to their kids

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that obese fathers have changes to microRNAs that increase the risks for daughters to be overweight/obese, and both sons and daughters to have diabetes-like diseases

Bethesda, MD—If you are obese and hope to be a father, here’s another reason to lose weight: your children and grandchildren may inherit your waistline or metabolic disorders. That’s because scientists have discovered in mice that obese fathers, even those who did not show any signs of diabetes, passed this negative trait on most frequently to their daughters. Sons don’t entirely dodge this genetic bullet either—both sons and daughters of obese fathers have increased risks of developing metabolic diseases, such as diabetes.

“If these findings hold true in humans, then a father’s diet and body composition at the time of conception is likely to affect his future child’s health and risk of lifelong disease,” said Tod Fullston, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Robinson Institute, Research Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. “Fathers should aim to be as healthy as possible at the time of conception to give future generations the best possible chance of good health.”

To make this discovery, Fullston and colleagues used two groups of male mice. One was fed a high-fat diet that resembled a “fast food” diet and the other was fed a nutritious control diet. When compared to the control group, the group fed the “fast food” diet gained weight and had an increase in fat (obesity) without any indications of diabetes. The two groups of male mice were then mated to normal weight control diet-fed females to produce first generation mice, which were also mated to normal weight control diet-fed mice to produce the second generation. Both generations of mouse offspring had metabolic disorders and obesity, with the only difference being their father’s/grandfather’s diet, although male/female offspring had different health problems. By comparing small RNA molecules (microRNAs) in sperm from the obese mice as compared to the control mice, researchers deduced that changes in these molecules might be partly responsible for the transmission of these conditions from father to offspring. This suggests that diet changes the molecular makeup of sperm, which in turn, program embryos and their risk of metabolic and reproductive health problems. The research also suggests that these adverse health outcomes may be transmitted into the second generation as well.

“We’ve known for quite some time that obesity is a serious problem for children of expectant mothers,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “and now we see that obesity is likely a serious problem for children of obese fathers as well. Hopefully as more research emerges to support these findings, future fathers will find ways to slim down, if not for themselves, then for their children and grandchildren.”

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6 responses to “Claim: Obesity causes genetic changes that are passed on to offspring

  1. They must be jealous of the successes of plant epigenetics.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920140150.htm

  2. Mice are not little people.
    Lysenkoism is balderdash.

  3. Sure Steve, but Tipperary does exist. And you can get there if you have a good engine. If it was a horse race I would give it an outside chance. The form is there. The markers are there. Obesity though is easily cured. Rye bread and water for three months, with a rare slice of ham and a little vitamin C.

  4. The unsupported assertion that “changes in these molecules might be partly responsible for the transmission of these conditions” is still a LONG way from being proven.
    So far the only discrete mechanism I have seen that has been demonstrated (per Koch’s Postulates) to produce obesity 100% of the time is the presence of gram-negative bacteria in the gut releasing lipopolysaccharide endotoxins into the host. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235292

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