If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, but you’re the one eating for two, you could leave your children predisposed to obesity, according to research from the University of Copenhagen.
In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers compared the sperm of 13 lean men (with a BMI below 30) and 10 obese men. They found lean and obese men’s sperm cells have different “epigenetic marks,” which can change the behavior of genes (i.e. how they express themselves in our bodies). In the second phase of the study, researchers tested the sperm of six obese men who were undergoing weight-loss surgery. They examined the men’s sperm before treatment, a week after surgery, and then for a third time a year later.
Significant structural changes to the sperm cell DNA were observed just a week after the surgery as well as one year later. And though it’s too soon to tell what these differences mean for offspring, the researchers say the sperm cell changes were related to appetite control and brain development.
“It’s common knowledge that when a woman is pregnant she should take care of herself—not drink alcohol, stay away from pollutants, etc.—but if the implication of our study holds true, then recommendations should be directed towards men, too,” said study author Romain Barrès in a press release.
The good news is that if you are overweight, slimming down can help your sperm (among tons of other benefits). Rather than turn to fad diets, try some of these 10 Ways to Lose Your Gut Backed by Solid Science.