Saturday, June 15, 2013

Newsflash: Fatty Diets Lead to Obese Children.

In literature, there is a trope called "Lamarck Was Right." This trope originates from the idea that Jean-Baptistse Lamarck, a predecessor of Darwin, believed that traits animals acquired during their lifetimes could be passed on to their offspring. The classic example is Lamarck's giraffe: giraffes grew longer and longer necks after stretching to get their food. No Mendelian inheritance involved, nope.

Well, it turns out Lamarck might have been onto something. A new lab study done on mice found that dads who were fed a high-fat diet were more likely to have obese children. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it means that some changes in an animal's lifetime can be passed on to their offspring. More below:

"Male mice who were fed a high-fat diet and became obese were more likely to father offspring who also had higher levels of body fat, a new Ohio University study finds.

The effect was observed primarily in male offspring, despite their consumption of a low-fat diet, scientists reported today at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Francisco, Calif.
"We've identified a number of traits that may affect metabolism and behavior of offspring dependent on the pre-conception diet of the father," said Felicia Nowak, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine who is lead author on the study.

The researchers point to epigenetics -- the way genes are expressed, as opposed to mutations in DNA that are "hard-wired into the genes" -- as a possible cause of these inherited traits. Because gene expression is impacted by environmental and lifestyle factors, this finding suggests that individuals with obese fathers may be able to proactively address health concerns.

The effect of parents' diet and weight on children has been well-established in humans, Nowak explained, but scientists have been studying the issue in mice to learn more about the biological mechanisms behind the phenomenon. The Ohio University team studied the impact of the high-fat diet only with male mice parents, as most of the previous research had focused on female mice parents.

To conduct the study, the researchers fed male mice a high-fat diet for 13 weeks before mating. (The female mates were fed a matched low-fat diet.) Male and female offspring were fed a standard low-fat diet and studied at 20 days, six weeks and at six and 12 months.

Compared with offspring from control mice (who were fed the low-fat diet), the male offspring of paternal mice with diet-induced obesity had higher body weight at six weeks of age. They also were more obese at the six- and 12-month study markers. In addition, the male offspring of obese fathers had different patterns of body fat composition -- a marker for health and propensity for disease -- than the control mice." Source with more.

On the plus side, these same obese mice babies were actually more active than the average mouse. Quite a twist! So, a question for the readers: was Lamarck really right?

1 comment:

  1. Seems that way. Discover Magazine did an article on this in their May issue.