Common supplements taken by fathers could significantly improve their offspring’s health

A new study suggests that fish oil supplements taken by fathers could be a promising tool in tackling the growing issue of childhood obesity

A new study in mice suggests that fish oil supplements taken by fathers could be a promising tool in addressing the growing issue of childhood obesity. This research could pave the way for innovative approaches to tackle this significant health problem.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of young people aged 5 to 19 who are obese has surged from 31 million in 1990 to 160 million in 2022. Obesity in youth increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

Researchers conducted an experiment to determine if the diet of male parents could influence the health of their offspring. They fed male mice a high-fat diet, with or without added fish oil. The study revealed that the offspring of males consuming fish oil had a lower body weight and better metabolic health compared to those whose fathers did not take the supplement.

“While further human studies are needed, this discovery opens a new frontier in our understanding of how parents, beyond just genetics, influence their offspring's well-being,” said Latha Ramalingam, PhD, assistant professor in nutrition at Syracuse University. “Fish oil, a readily available and safe supplement, could become a powerful weapon in our fight for a healthier next generation.”

Sarah Dellet, a graduate student in Ramalingam’s lab, is set to present these findings at NUTRITION 2024, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

This is the first study to exclusively examine inheritance patterns through the paternal line. It builds on previous research demonstrating the benefits of fish oil supplementation in mothers for reducing childhood obesity risk.


Related Stories


Involving almost 150 mice, the study had male mice on a high-fat diet, with or without fish oil supplementation. These males were then mated with female mice that consumed a regular, healthy low-fat diet.

Results showed that offspring, who were fed a low-fat healthy diet and had fathers receiving fish oil, weighed less at 7 and 21 days compared to those whose fathers did not take fish oil. Additionally, female offspring from the fish oil group showed better metabolic health, as indicated by improved glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity.

“This concept offers a significant potential to reshape our strategies in combating childhood obesity,” said Ramalingam. “Picture a future where pre-conception dietary guidance isn't solely directed at mothers, but also involves fathers, enabling them to play a more active role in promoting their children's well-being right from the start.”

The researchers are now delving into the potential mechanisms through which dietary changes affect sperm, aiming to understand how this information transfer influences the next generation. They are also examining muscle and liver gene expression to gain deeper insights into the genetic basis of the improved insulin sensitivity observed in females.

This study marks a step forward in understanding how paternal diet can influence offspring health and opens up new avenues for preventing childhood obesity through dietary interventions targeting both parents.

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.

Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.


Joshua Shavit
Joshua ShavitScience and Good News Writer
Joshua Shavit is a bright and enthusiastic 17-year-old student with a passion for sharing positive stories that uplift and inspire. With a flair for writing and a deep appreciation for the beauty of human kindness, Joshua has embarked on a journey to spotlight the good news that happens around the world daily. His youthful perspective and genuine interest in spreading positivity make him a promising writer and co-founder at The Brighter Side of News.