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Unhealthy living may affect children

Obesity could affect the genetics of successive generations according to new reseach
Women who are overweight could have children who will have even worse weight issues in their lifetime, new research has shown.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas found that a phenomenon called epigenetics means that damage done to the DNA of one generation of mice can affect the next generation.

Testing was carried out on mice which all had the same genetic tendency to overeat, but some were fed food that would suppress the genetic trait.

The research was working on the hypothesis that maternal obesity before and during pregnancy can affect the body weight regulatory mechanisms in the baby.

"Why is everyone getting heavier and heavier?" asked the study's lead author Dr Robert A Waterland, about the worldwide obesity epidemic.

"Maternal obesity could promote obesity in the next generation."

While tests were only carried out on mice, population studies provide evidence that the same could be true in humans.

The Times reported on similar studies which looked at factors other than overeating.

A University College London report found that sons of fathers who had smoked before the age of 11 had an increased risk of obesity and an Institute of Psychiatry study found that children born to fathers aged 40 or over were six times more likely to be autistic than those born to fathers under 30.

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