How future fathers can turn the tide on obesity

As you know, childhood obesity is a bit of a pet topic of mine. After all, I was an overweight kid. So I know firsthand what the modern diabesity epidemic is doing to our children.

I also know that the fight for your child’s metabolic health can never start too early. In fact, we now know that some of the most important preventive measures begin before your baby is even born.

But today, I’m not going to talk about what pregnant mothers can do to ensure their kids grow up lean and healthy. I’m going to talk about what hopeful fathers can do instead…

Exercise habits can shape a generation

As a rule, I don’t give much credence to animal studies. But I’m making an exception for this one. And you’ll see why.

As part of recent research funded by the National Institutes of Health, scientists set out to examine whether a man’s exercise habits have an influence on his offspring’s metabolic health.

In order to do this, they set up an experiment using male mice — some of which ate normal diets while others ate high-fat. Some exercised freely, while others remained sedentary.

After three weeks, the mice bred. And researchers tracked their offspring for a year.

Here’s what they found: For starters, the offspring of the exercising mice had better blood sugar metabolism, lower body weight, and lower body fat than the offspring of sedentary mice — even into adulthood.

In fact, regular exercise appeared to actively counteract the negative effects a poor diet had on the metabolic health of offspring. Specifically, it appeared to actively change the genetic activity of the mice’s sperm, in such a way as to prevent these damaging traits from transferring to the males’ children.

Now, does any of this mean that a human father’s exercise will benefit his offspring, too? Not necessarily — since this is an animal study, we simply have no guarantee of that.

But the fact is, all hopeful fathers — and really, all men in general (regardless of their reproductive goals) — should be getting regular, vigorous exercise anyway. Because obesity impacts way more than just testosterone levels and sperm quality.

And the best way to nurture the health of future generations will always be to lead by example.