Eating a single chocolate bar can cause problems for future generations

January 16th, 2009 - 1:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Jan 16 (ANI): Eating that chocolate bar can not only give you those love handles, but also predispose your kids to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems, for Melbourne scientists have found that fatness is passed via genes.

For the first time, scientists have proved that by following wrong eating practices, fat people reprogram controls over their DNA and pass on fatness and disease not only to their children, but also to future generations.

According to reports by the Herald Sun, the scientists said that damage done by unhealthy eating is “remembered” in genetic controls - epigenetics - and turns off good genes needed to prevent diabetes, heart disease and other complications.

“It is this idea that you are what you eat, and perhaps that is a reflection of what your parents ate, and perhaps what your grandparents ate,” quoted lead researcher Assoc Prof Assam El-Osta, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute team, as saying.

The researchers showed that a single sugar hit, such as eating a chocolate bar, damaged the controls regulating the genes for two weeks.

However, El-Osta warned that regular poor eating practices meant the damage would last for months or years, and the real problems linked with unhealthy diet were postponed until later life.

After proving the impact of high-sugar foods, researchers are now trying to find out if high-fat foods, smoking and other lifestyle factors also cause long-term damage to genetic controls, which could be passed along family bloodlines.

The scientists said that a poor diet could lead to very serious changes, which are registered for many months, or even years.

“You don”t see the damage caused that day, that week or that month, but later on in life you see these complications like heart disease or problems with the eyes and your kidneys,” said El-Osta.

The finding may also reveal why artery damage persists in diabetics, even after they have long periods of therapy.

Prof El-Osta said: “This is not all doom and gloom . . . we think there is good epigenetic memory as well for individuals who have a good diet, not only for themselves but potentially for future generations.

“If you have had five years of bad control, where good genes are switched off and bad genes switched on, changing that for a couple of months to a good diet may not have a tremendous impact.

“But going back to a good diet would have some effect 10 years later. Dieting doesn”t work because what you ate two months or two years ago is going to be reflected now.”

The findings have been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. (ANI)

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