Findings of a new study are suggesting that overweight men should take steps to lose their body weight before they start a family if they want to reduce the risk of having fat children.
The study has revealed that DNA found in the sperm of obese men, who have lost their body weight by undergoing gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery, experiences “epigenetic” changes which might predispose their kids to be slim instead of becoming overweight.
These preliminary findings might be the first set of powerful direct evidence that men and also women must change their lifestyle to prepare themselves to conceive a child.
University of Copenhagen’s Romain Barres, the study’s lead researcher, said that the study conducted by him and his colleagues might result in changes in behavior, especially preconception behavior, of fathers.
Dr. Barres added that most of us know that when a woman gets pregnant she must start taking care of herself, for instance, she must stop drinking alcohol, avoid pollutants etc. According to him, if implications of the new research turn out to be true, then we might soon see doctors directing recommendation even towards men.
During the study, researchers analyzed DNA of 6 obese men, each of whom underwent bariatric surgery. They found that there has been no genetic change in their genes, but they did spot 5,000 non-genetic structural modifications on average to different molecules surrounding those men’s sperm DNA.
According to Dr. Barres, these “epigenetic” changes in men might be results of the sudden weight loss due to surgery and can get passed on to the next generation. However, he emphasized that right now, these are just hypotheses.
Dr. Barres said that this is just an association, but it’s possible that the weight loss caused by the surgery is responsible for the changes taking place in the sperm cell. He added that if that’s true, it would mean that characteristics transmitted by men to their kids might change over time.
The message this new study has for men is that it’s extremely important that they take care of themselves before becoming a father, a suggestion that was previously not meant for men.
Here, it must be mentioned that experiments carried out on lab animals have already shown that making epigenetic changes to eggs and sperm is possible by inducing environmental changes. That’s not all; animal studies have also shown that those chances can be passed on to the next generation.