Surprising research indicates that the father's influence on the child can go far beyond genetics.
According to research from the University of Copenhagen, the sperm of obese men are different from those of thin people. And the odd thing is, when an obese person goes through bariatric surgery, losing his belly and appetite, his sperm also changes. And it may be that your offspring is less likely to become obese as well.
The data is surprising because traits such as the tendency to obesity have traditionally been believed to be determined only by genes - and genes do not change when one undergoes stomach reduction surgery. It turns out that in recent years it is becoming clear that there are other ways for a parent to convey characteristics to their children. This is called epigenetics: the way environmental factors can influence the performance of genes. According to the researchers, an obese person has different substances than thin people in their sperm: and these substances turn on some genes and turn off others in offspring, which influences the characteristics of the child.
Danish scientists first examined the sperm of 10 obese and 13 skinny men, and detected more than 9,000 small differences in the way their genes work. Then they found 6 obese men who were going through bariatric surgery. What they did was observe the sperm before and one year after the operation. According to them, there were about 3,900 genes that behaved differently after surgery.
The research helps to understand previous mouse studies indicating that features such as stress and obesity appear to be transmitted epigenetically. Fat Mice Breed Fat Puppies, Nervous Mice Breed Nervous Puppies - Even When Fat or Nervousness Are Not Genetic, But Environmental (Scientists Stuffed Normal Mice With Food To Fatten Them, Or Stressed The Poor Things To The Limit While They Reproduced ).
The new study is far from definitive because of the small number of research subjects. But it points out very interesting paths for future research.