New York: Women who consume fat and sugar-rich diets and are obese even before their pregnancy can predispose upto three generations to the risk of metabolic problems even if their children consume healthy diets, warns a new study conducted on mice.
The findings showed that a mother's obesity could put three generations at risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease as well as genetic abnormalities.
The mother's obesity and its associated metabolic problems can be inherited through mitochondrial DNA -- powerhouses of cells -- present in the unfertilized oocyte or egg.
"Our data was the first to show that pregnant mouse mothers with metabolic syndrome can transmit dysfunctional mitochondria through the female bloodline to three generations," said Kelle H Moley, professor at Washington University.
"Importantly, our study indicates oocytes - or mothers' eggs - may carry information that programs mitochondrial dysfunction throughout the entire organism," Ms Moley added.
The team conducted research over mice, which were fed foods consisting of 60 per cent fat and 20 percent sugar approximately.
The offsprings were later fed a controlled diet of standard rodent chow, which is high in protein and low in fat and sugar.
Despite the healthy diet, the pups, grand pups and great-grand pups developed insulin resistance and other metabolic problems.
Researchers found abnormal mitochondria in muscle and skeletal tissue of the mice.
"Over the decades, our diets have worsened, in large part due to processed foods and fast foods. We're seeing the effects in the current obesity crisis," Ms Moley noted.
In humans, children's diet closely mirror their parents, therefore, the effects of maternal metabolic syndrome may be greater than in the mouse model, said the paper published online in the journal Cell Reports.
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