Fat Father = Diabetic Daughter

According to a study published in the journal Nature, girls born to overweight fathers are more likely to have impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion.

And in case you didn’t know, impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion leads to Type 2 diabetes.

The Study

Australian researchers fed some male rats a high-fat diet and kept others on a healthy diet. Both groups of rats mated with females, all of whom ate a healthy diet.

A genetic analysis of the offspring revealed that 642 genes related to insulin and glucose metabolism were expressed differently in the daughters of overweight rats compared with the control rats. These so-called epigenetic changes affected the function of pancreatic cells that make insulin.

This is the first report in mammals of non-genetic, intergenerational transmission of metabolic sequelae of a HFD from father to offspring.

Conclusions & Questions

At first glance, this study seems to create a nice clear link between scientific research and common sense.

  • An unhealthy / poorly fed animal is more likely to produce unhealthy offspring.

Makes sense to me.

However, I do have some questions.

  • As this study involved rats, there is always to question of how this research would apply to human beings.
  • What is the macronutrient/micronutrient breakdown of  the “high fat” diet fed to the rats.
  • Is it really a high carb/high fat diet?
  • Is it loaded with vitamins, mineral, enzymes, etc?
  • How closely does it represent the Standard American Diet that I assume the researchers were attempting to replicate?
  • Were calories controlled or could the rat daddies eat as much as they wanted?
  • Is the epigentic effect short term or long term?
  • If I eat an entire Double Down sandwich while trying to impregnate my wife, will my daughters become diabetic?


Either way you look at it, this is a pretty interesting study which suggests an epigenitc link between a parent’s lifestyle and the health of their offspring.


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

4 thoughts on “Fat Father = Diabetic Daughter

  • October 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Doug
    I saw this topic being discussed this week on TV here in Perth. One thing that I have noticed is that often where there are overwieght adults in the family; the children follow but I reckon that could be cos they all eat the same diet! Will be interesting to hear updates of this research. Like you point out; as the research is based on using rats will be more conclusive when humans are included in the studies.thanks for the update.
    Patricia Perth Australia

  • October 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    That’s not good news Doug. Not only are Big Macs and Double Downs making people fat, but they could play a generational role in the increasing incidence of diabetes.

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  • October 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Hi Doug,

    There maybe something to this. I do know quite a few people who have overweight fathers and the daughters are diabetic.

    You ask to good questions too. If the father is fat, then the off-spring will more than likely eat a similar diet, which can contribute to the daughter being diabetic. Diet is definitely key here.

    Interesting study!


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