Fish Oil Supplement Taken by Fathers May Help Combat Childhood Obesity

by Ella

A recent study conducted on mice has unveiled a promising new approach to tackling the rising issue of childhood obesity. The research indicates that a simple dietary adjustment—fathers taking fish oil supplements—could play a significant role in addressing this growing health concern.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of obese children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 has surged from 31 million in 1990 to 160 million in 2022. This excess weight increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, and can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.


In the study, researchers explored whether the diet of male mice could impact the health of their offspring. The male mice were fed a high-fat diet, with some receiving additional fish oil supplements. The offspring of the mice that consumed fish oil exhibited lower body weight and better metabolic health compared to those whose fathers did not take fish oil.


Sarah Dellet, a graduate student in Ramalingam’s lab, is set to present these findings at NUTRITION 2024, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, held from June 29 to July 2 in Chicago.


This study is notable as it is the first to examine inheritance patterns solely through the paternal line. It builds on previous research demonstrating the benefits of maternal fish oil supplementation in reducing the risk of childhood obesity.


In this new study involving nearly 150 mice, the male mice were fed a high-fat diet either with or without fish oil supplements and then mated with female mice on a regular healthy low-fat diet. The researchers found that the offspring of the males that received fish oil weighed less at both 7 and 21 days old than those whose fathers did not receive fish oil. Female offspring from the fish oil group also showed improved metabolic health, as evidenced by better glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity.

“This concept offers significant potential to reshape our strategies in combating childhood obesity,” said Ramalingam. “Imagine a future where pre-conception dietary guidance isn’t just aimed at mothers but also involves fathers, enabling them to play a more active role in promoting their children’s well-being right from the start.”

The researchers are now investigating the mechanisms by which dietary changes in fathers affect sperm and how this information transfer influences the next generation. They are also examining muscle and liver gene expression to gain deeper insights into the genetic basis for the enhanced insulin sensitivity observed in female offspring.



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