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Obesity Skips a Generation, Affects Grandchildren the Most: Study

Jun 06, 2013 09:04 AM EDT

According to a new study, grandmothers who are obese, have heart disease, or are diabetic could pass on these health complications to their grandchildren.

Previous research from Jerusalem had suggested that children born to obese mothers are at greater risk of having health complications even during later stages of life.

According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of all people living in the U.S. are obese. The present study, conducted by researchers from University of Edinburgh, has shown that the condition along with its complications, such as heart diseases and diabetes type-2, can affect grandchildren, even if it skips the offspring of obese people.

The study was conducted on a set of mice that were kept on a diet of fat and sugar before and during pregnancy. Researchers found that the second generation was mostly affected by the experimental mice's health complications.

Researchers said that the study didn't find how the first generation was protected against obesity and related health complications.

The study team added that studying the same effect on humans will provide better understanding of the disease.

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

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