Thinking piling on the pounds is part and parcel of preparing for fatherhood? Think again...
Relationships make you fat. There, I said it. You skip the gym to spend more time with your partner, you tend to spend weekends in and you’re generally too happy to give a damn about what anyone else thinks.
But if you want this relationship to result in a baby, your first fatherly duty should be to fight your waistline because you could be passing your fat genes onto generations to come.
While it’s been known for a long time that overweight fathers increase the risks of childhood obesity, diabetes and other modern ‘lifestyle’ diseases, the research has mostly focused on how overweight dads affect their kids when raising them.
Now, new research is suggesting that fathers who are overweight when they conceive not only make for overweight children, but overweight grandchildren.
A joint study between Sydney’s Victor Chang Institute and the Garvin Institute of Medical Research found that both the children and grandchildren of obese male mice were predisposed to metabolic disorders, through a process known as foetal programming.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr Jennifer Cropley, the father’s sperm are responsible.
“Until recently, it was thought that all that was in sperm was DNA, the genes, but we’re starting to realise that there are other molecules in there as well,” she explains.
“We found changes in very small molecules called non-coding RNA inside the sperm of obese dads and we think that might be what’s perpetuating this disease risk from generation to generation.”
So what does this mean for you?
Firstly, your happy relationship paunch isn’t as cool as it first was, especially if you’re trying to conceive. But, the good news is that it can be changed or even reversed relatively easily. Because sperm take around 90 days to regenerate, once you lose weight, you lose the ability to pass down fat genes (or non-coding RNA, to be specific).
That’s probably enough of an appetite killer for you and if you are trying for a baby, it might be the best advice you get. Bust your gut and you’ll be thanking yourself for generations to come.