Diabetes might skip a generation, new study says

Conditions like heart disease and diabetes might actually skip a generation, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that moderately obese mothers can pass down genetic risks for high birth weight and diabetes to their grandchildren – even if their children aren't affected by these complications themselves.

And while current research tends to focus on the parent-child relationship as it relates to obesity, experts say that more attention should be put on how conditions in extended family members could translate into health risks for younger generations.

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More research needed on developmental programming

Scientists fed moderately obese mice a diet high in fat and sugar before and during pregnancy. Results showed that they passed on the risks of obesity to the second generation of offspring, while the first generation saw no negative effects at all.

While the study was carried out on mice, researchers say the implications for humans in these types of scenarios – referred to as developmental programming – requires more research.

Obesity rates rising

Obesity rates are at an all-time high, the study notes, with problems like cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease ensuing.

First-generation offspring may be protected because of factors like differences in maternal weight gain or foods eaten during pregnancy, but the reasons are not fully understood.

"Given the worldwide increase in obesity, it is vital that we gain an understanding of how future generations may be affected," Dr. Amanda Drake, senior clinical research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release. "Future studies could look at these trends in humans, but they would need to take into account genetics, environmental, social and cultural factors."

Source: The University of Edinburgh

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