A study published on Monday in the journal Diabetes has shown that men who want to have healthy children should do more exercises.
Hence there is increasing evidence that fathers play an important role in obesity and metabolic programming of their offspring.
American researchers from Ohio State University College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School investigated how a father’s exercise regimen would affect his offspring’s metabolic health.
Using a mouse model, they 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 found that adult offspring from sires who exercised had improved glucose metabolism, decreased body weight and a decreased fat mass.
“Offspring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glucose intolerant. But exercise negated that effect,’’ said Kristin Stanford, a physiology and cell biology researcher with Ohio State.
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.
The researchers believed the results supported the hypothesis that small RNAs could help transmit parental environmental information to the next generation.
“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.
“There’s potential for this to translate to humans. We know that in adult men obesity impairs testosterone levels, sperm number and motility, and it decrease the number of live births.
“If we ask someone who’s getting ready to have a child to exercise moderately, even for a month before conception, that could have a strong effect on the health of their sperm and the long-term metabolic health of their children,’’ said Stanford.