The Genetic Risk of Diabetes Across Generations?

The obesity plague has certainly taken its toll on the lifespan of the average American. The increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- faced in particular by today's obese children -- could be lowering America's average life expectancy of 77.6 years by as much as five years in the decades to come.

There's many complications women and their babies suffer as a result of poor eating habits. Here's a particularly interesting one to think about: University of Texas researchers have discovered a connection between the poor diets of grandmothers during pregnancy and while breastfeeding and the incidence of diabetes in their grandchildren.

Scientists believe the "passalong factor" is especially strong among granddaughters, and that the study offers important clues about the origins of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance too. On the other hand, grandsons were more affected by the lack of nutrients they received from their mothers during breastfeeding.

Although the link between poor eating habits and diabetes across generations is certainly intriguing, I'm troubled this will prompt more parents to blame the bad genes of their own parents for the obesity of their children, rather than to take steps to nip the problem themselves.

No matter what your genes may seem to be telling you or what your family's history has been, there's plenty you can do to curtail the epidemic of childhood obesity and the dire effects of diabetes in your home right now.

Journal of Physiology April 28, 2005

BBC News May 8, 2005

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