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Parental obesity and overweight affect the body-fat accumulation in the offspring: the possible effect of a high-fat diet through epigenetic inheritance


Masashige Suzuki, School of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, 2-579-15 Mikajima, Tokorazawa, Saitama 359-1192, Japan. E-mail:


The prevalence of obesity in adults has been rising continually, as has the prevalence of childhood obesity, and a large number of epidemiological studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between parental obesity and childhood obesity. In this paper, we review the effect of diet, the intrauterine environment, and the genetic inheritance on obesity. We described a study in detail that used experimental animals as a model to investigate the effect of a parental high-fat diet on body-fat accumulation in their offspring. Fertilized eggs were transplanted in that study, and body-fat accumulation in the offspring of the parents fed a high-fat diet was found to be greater than in the offspring of the parents fed a low-fat diet, even when the experimental conditions were the same in the intrauterine and subsequent environment. The results suggested that a parental high-fat diet before intrauterine developmental stage may increase body-fat accumulation in the offspring. We discuss the possibility that parental diet may influence the lifelong health of offspring and epigenetic inheritance may be occurred.