When fathers exercise, children are healthier, finds a study!
Pic used for representational purpose only. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahid Kapoor/Instagram
Recent studies have linked the development of Type 2 diabetes and impaired metabolic health to the parents' poor diet, and there is increasing evidence that fathers play an important role in obesity and metabolic programming of their offspring.
In a new study led by Kristin Stanford, of The Ohio State University College of Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center, paternal exercise had a significant impact on the metabolic health of offspring well into their adulthood. The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes.
'This work is an important step in learning about metabolic disease and prevention at the cellular level,' said Dr K. Craig Kent.
Using a mouse model, the researchers fed male mice either a normal diet or a high-fat diet for three weeks.
Some mice from each diet group were sedentary and some exercised freely.
After three weeks, the mice bred and their offspring ate a normal diet under sedentary conditions for a year.
The researchers report that adult offspring from sires who exercised had improved glucose metabolism, decreased body weight and a decreased fat mass.
'Here's what's really interesting; offspring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glucose intolerant. But exercise negated that effect,' Stanford said.
'When the dad exercised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw improved metabolic health in their adult offspring.'
Stanford's team also found that exercise caused changes in the genetic expression of the father's sperm that suppress poor dietary effects and transfer to the offspring.
'We saw a strong change in their small-RNA profile. Now we want to see exactly which small-RNAs are responsible for these metabolic improvements, where it's happening in the offspring and why,' Stanford said.
Previous studies from this group have shown that when mouse mothers exercise, their offspring also have beneficial effects of metabolism.
'Based on both studies, we're now determining if both parents exercising have even greater effects to improve metabolism and overall health of offspring.
'If translated to humans, this would be hugely important for the health of the next generation,' Laurie Goodyear, who co-led the study, said.