Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health problems linked to obesity could skip an entire generatio, according to a new study published in the journal Endocrinology.
The research suggests that the immediate offspring of overweight or obese mothers may be protected from obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer and stroke, but not their grandchildren who are more likely to suffer from these diseases.
The finding comes from scientists at Edinburgh University who studied moderately obese female mice fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet before and during pregnancy.
Virtually no ill-effects were seen in the first generation of offspring when fed a normal diet, but the second generation were found to be more prone to obesity related problems.
According to the researchers, this apparent protection for the first generation could be down to the tweaks that occur to a person’s DNA while they are in the womb.
They added that studying effects of this kind, referred to as developmental programming or epigenetics, in humans might be possible and would help scientists understand how disease risk may be passed down from parents to their grandchildren.
Dr Amanda Drake, senior clinical research fellow at Edinburgh University, said: “Given the worldwide increase in obesity, it is vital that we gain an understanding of how future generations may be affected.
“Future studies could look at these trends in humans but they would need to take into account genetics, environmental, social and cultural factors.”

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