How Overweight Dads Make Overweight Kids

How Overweight Dads Make Overweight Kids

In 2014-15, when Hangover star Zach Galifianakis shed 50-60 pounds to star in Birdman, social media lit up with negative buzz: “The jolly fat man lost his jolly,” was one re-tweeted sentiment. But he’s on the right track -- for his own health and happiness and that of any kids he may have.

Turns out it isn’t just overweight moms who put their children at risk for health problems. Fat dads’ sperm carries messages that signal their offspring to pack on pounds, too. Seems Dad’s extra fat triggers epigenetic switches in his RNA and DNA that control brain development, function and appetite! Those epigenetic changes are passed down through sperm to your offspring. 

But Dads and future Dads, good news! You don’t have to pass along the health debits that come from being overweight (sexual dysfunction, heart disease, dementia, diabetes). According to a recent study in Cell Metabolism, losing weight through bariatric surgery flips those gene switches back to healthy-weight messages. (Losing weight through upgraded lifestyle habits works too, and everyone should adopt them!)

So if you’re thinking about becoming a Dad, cut out processed foods, those with added sugars and syrups, all trans and most sat fats, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole; get a pedometer and head for 10,000 steps a day; sleep 7-8 hours nightly; de-stress with daily mindful meditation. And if you’re addicted to illicit drugs, tobacco or alcohol, which affect sperm quality too, get help and celebrate your recovery. Now, eat fruitfully and multiply.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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