Obesity is not just detrimental to your health, it can damage your very essence: DNA. The genetic damage caused by obesity is passed to future generations, upping offspring's chances of also becoming obese, thus perpetuating the cycle of weight gain. In a recent study, researchers have figured out a way to reverse the DNA damage caused by obesity, a feat which will not only help increase fertility chances for obese women but also prevent their children from inheriting these damaged cells.

Generations Of Obesity

Obesity runs in families and although similar dietary habits play a large role, there are also genetic factors. According to a recent press release, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have discovered that obesity leads to a particular stress response that causes damage to the mitochondria in our cells. The mitochondria have their own DNA, which means that these obesity-related patterns can then be passed on over the span of generations.

“All of the mitochondria in our bodies come from our mother. If the mother is obese, this produces stresses that lead to reduced transmission of mitochondria to the offspring,” lead author Associate Professor Rebecca Robker explained in the press release.

Children who inherit these altered mitochondria go on to develop heavier than normal body size and have far less amounts of mitochondrial DNA “and other obvious signs of damage,” Robker added.

How To Reverse This Damage

Figuring out the root of the damage is the key to reversing it, and the researchers believe that this is now possible. Robker and her team used compounds known to alleviate this particular type of stress in diabetes patients and found that they were “highly successful” in preventing the damage from obesity from being passed onto offspring.

"It restored egg quality, embryo development, and mitochondrial DNA to levels equivalent to those of a healthy mother. Effectively, the problem was fully reversed," Robker said.

Although the technique has not yet been tested, in theory it could help to restore “natural” fertility in obese women, but most importantly, help to prevent them from passing on these damaged mitochondrial genes, meaning that children will be able to start life without any predisposition to obesity.

While this news is exciting, in the meantime women are urged to do all in their power to naturally maintain a healthy weight and ensure general health before becoming pregnant. Obesity along with breastfeeding for less than a month, gaining excess weight during pregnancy, smoking habits, and a low vitamin D level are considered the five biggest contributors to a child’s risk of obesity.

"Women are urged to eat healthy diets to optimize their chances for a healthy conception and to reduce the potential impact on their child's future health," Robker said.

Source: Robker RL, Wu LL, Russell DL, et al. Mitochondrial dysfunction in oocytes of obese mothers: transmission to offspring and reversal by pharmacological endoplasmic reticulum stress inhibitors. Development. 2015.