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Sperm & Obesity

December 11, 2015

A man’s weight influences how genes are expressed in his sperm.



A man’s weight may be written in his sperm. In the journal Cell Metabolism, University of Copenhagen professor Romain Barres reports that body weight is associated with epigenetic marks in men’s sperm. Those are modifications to DNA that can turn genes on or off.

ROMAIN BARRES (University of Copenhagen):

It will potentially explain why children of obese fathers are more at risk to be obese themselves.


Compared to lean men, obese men’s sperm had different epigenetic marks associated with genes regulating brain development and appetite. Barres also found that weight-loss surgery altered epigenetics, indicating the differences were indeed due to body weight. Future work will investigate how the modifications affect offspring. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.