Men who eat junk food could be condemning their future children to diabetes, a study suggests….
Prospective fathers should keep an eye on their diet in the same way as mothers-to-be, a new study implies. The warning comes as America fights an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, 21 million people already diagnosed and the figure forecast to triple by 2050.
A further 60 million are on the borderline of the condition, which usually comes on in middle age and greatly raises the odds of heart disease, stroke and conditions which lead to limb amputation. It can also shorten lifespan by ten years.
Much of the increase in incidence has been blamed on expanding waistlines. But the study suggests that at least some of the seeds of destruction could be sown in previous generations.
The Australian and American researchers fed young male rats a diet high in fat, mated them with healthy females and tracked the health of their female pups.
These ‘daughters’ developed diabetes before they reached puberty, with blood glucose concentrations double those of young born to other males.
The junk-food rats’ daughters also produced half the amount of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and is key to the development of diabetes, Nature journal reports.
Although the experiment included only female pups, it is thought that male offspring would be similarly affected.
It is thought the fatty food caused subtle changes to DNA in the rats’ sperm, causing problems in the metabolism of the next generation.
Margaret Morris, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, stated that, ‘If similar effects apply in humans, it underlines the need for men to maintain a healthy diet and body weight. ‘This is not only for their own health, but for that of the next generation.’
Dr. Iain Frame, of British charity Diabetes UK, said ‘translating’ the study to humans could help improve health outcomes in people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
New Scientist, Oct. 2010