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expert reaction to unpublished conference abstract about giving fish oil to male mice and the impact on their female offspring

An unpublished conference abstract looks at how giving male mice fish oil impacts the health of their female offspring. 


Dr Katie Dalrymple, Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said:

“Childhood obesity is a growing concern across the globe and research efforts over recent years have focused on identifying responsible environmental, genetic, social and lifestyle factors. This study in mice highlights the link between paternal fish-oil intake and offspring health, but it cannot be assumed that the same is true in humans. We don’t have enough information from this study to suggest that men thinking of starting a family should take fish oils to improve the health of their daughters.

“Before any firm conclusions can be drawn from the results, the findings need to be verified in randomised controlled trials in humans. I would advise anyone considering starting a family to eat a varied and balanced diet, with a focus on fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and lean protein sources and to also cut down on alcohol intake and smoking.”


Prof Keith Frayn, Emeritus Professor of Human Metabolism, University of Oxford, said:

“It is known that some features of a parent’s lifestyle can be handed down to their offspring through the process known as epigenetics (the sequence of the DNA is not changed but it is ‘marked up’ to change its expression).

“The demonstration that feeding male mice a fish-oil supplement added to a high-fat diet makes their offspring leaner is an interesting preliminary observation.  This is a conference abstract and we don’t have all the experimental details, but it is clear that the dose of fish oil given to the mice was far higher than a human would take even if a high-strength pharmaceutical version were used.  Also there are some odd features of the data, with the male mice given a high-fat diet apparently failing to put on extra weight as we would expect. 

“All in all, we are far from ready to extrapolate this to advice to prospective fathers.”



‘Like Father, Like Daughter: Influence of Paternal Diet on Female Offspring Metabolic Health’ by Sarah K. Dellett and Latha Ramalingam was presented at Nutrition 2024 at 3.30pm UK time on Saturday 29 June 2024.



Declared interests

Prof Keith Frayn: I am the author of a forthcoming back on calories: ‘A calorie is a calorie’ (Piatkus, Jan 2025), as well as several books on metabolism

Dr Katie Dalrymple: None

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