Fat could change DNA, study shows

Such inheritance, also called epigenetic inheritance, is reversible. However, the study called for more research.

You might want to put away that extra piece of chicken or that fatty nyama choma these coming days. Not only will these kilos end up in your hips and belly but they could also change your DNA. This means they can affect the hereditary material contained in your body cells.

A study, “Epigenome-wide association study of body mass index, and the adverse outcomes of adiposity”, shows this could lead to offspring acquiring diabetes, heart diseases, depression and infertility.

One of the authors, Simone Wahl, said the issue was particularly relevant “because an estimated 1.5 billion people are overweight”.

The large-scale international study coordinated by Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Centre for Diabetes Research, shows while our “genes do not change in the course of life, our lifestyle can directly influence their surroundings”.

The scientists used state-of-the-art technology to examine blood samples of more than 10,000 men and women from Europe, a majority of whom were of Indian ancestry in British capital London.

This population, the authors said, had a high risk of obesity and metabolic diseases.


Analysis showed there were changes in their genes as a consequence of being overweight and not the cause of obesity as it is assumed.

The research, published this month in the scientific journal Nature, also offers light into predicting type 2 diabetes, which is often preventable. It usually results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin and is the most common form of diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get from the blood into body cells where it is converted into energy.

“Our results provide new insights into the pathways influenced by adiposity and may enable development of strategies for prediction and prevention of type 2 diabetes and other clinical consequences of obesity,” the report says.

These findings come eight months after a nationwide research “Kenya STEPwise Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors 2015 Report” showed more than six million adults have excess fat as a result of eating too much and moving too little.

The Survey showed unhealthy diets, including lots of sugar, salt, alcohol and tobacco.

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