Father’s diet can affect anxiety in sons, metabolism in daughters: Study in mice finds

PTI, Apr 22, 2024, 7:31 PM IST

Representative image

New Delhi: The father’s diet can affect the anxiety levels in their sons and the metabolism of their daughters before they are even conceived, according to new research conducted in mice.

While a mouse father’s diet is known to impact his and his children’s reproductive health, it was not yet known if differing its macronutrient composition of proteins, fats and carbohydrates could have differing impacts on children’s health, researchers said.

The team of scientists, co-led by the University of Sydney, Australia, found that male mice fed with diets low on proteins and high on carbohydrates are more likely to have male offspring with higher levels of anxiety.

They also found that male mice fed with high-fat diets are more likely to have daughters with higher body fat and more biological indicators of metabolic disease.

The findings, published in the Nature Communications journal, showed that in mice, the father can shape their children’s health through their diets.

“It is extraordinary that by (adjusting proportions) of protein, fat and carbs in the father’s diet we could influence specific features of his sons and daughters’ health and behaviour. There is some important biology at play here,” said Stephen Simpson from the University of Sydney and the study’s co-senior author.

For the study, the researchers fed male mice one of 10 diets differing in the amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates, and then allowed them to mate with females reared on a standard diet. They then analysed the behaviour and physiology of the resulting offspring.

The team also found that males consuming a low-protein diet also ate more food overall. However, macronutrient composition, along with calories, were found to influence the mice’s offsprings’ health.

“Our study shows that it’s not just eating too much or too little, but the composition of the diet that can have an impact on future children,” said Romain Barrès, from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the study’s co-senior author.

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