By Mike Pomranz
Updated December 08, 2015
© Blend Images / Alamy Stock Photo

If concern over your own weight isn’t enough to get you to eat healthier, maybe do it for your future offspring? A new study suggests that a father’s diet long before his kids are even born may have repercussions for his children’s weight and health.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen recently published two major findings in the field of epigenetics – the study of how outside factors beyond DNA can affect inherited traits. In one study, researchers compared the sperm cells of 13 lean men with those of 10 obese men. Indeed, the different men exhibited different epigenetic marks, ones the authors believe could affect the appetite of their unborn children. In another experiment, the same scientists looked at six men before and after gastric-bypass surgery. Again, researchers saw an effect on epigenetic traits, “an average of 4,000 structural changes to sperm cell DNA from the time before the surgery, directly after, and one year later,” according to the university’s website.

“We certainly need to further examine the meaning of these differences; yet, this is early evidence that sperm carries information about a man’s weight. And our results imply that weight loss in fathers may influence the eating behavior or their future children,” said Romain Barrès, one of the study’s authors.

Even better, these findings mean that what your dad ate may affect how you turned out, which should make for a solid scientific reference when arguing with your parents this holiday season. You could even print the study out and use it as a stocking stuffer! Merry Christmas, Dad!