Burgers outside the stadium before the football game between Norwich City and Crystal Palace on Aug. 08, 2015. Reuters/Henry Browne

Scientists at the Victor Chang and Garvan Institutes has suggested that obese fathers who have decided to have a baby, may pass on metabolic problems to their sons, daughters and even grandchildren. Heart diseases and diabetes may also be passed on. Even though the study was based on mice, the researchers said the findings have immediate public health implications.

The study will serve as a warning to would-be fathers who believe it’s only the mothers who must take care of their health when conceiving. The study does not give a free pass to fathers when it comes to the health of their children.

Lead researcher and associate professor at Victor Chang, Catherine Suter, said that while speaking only on maternal obesity, she felt as if she is making mothers feel guiltier than they already were.

She added that not enough attention has been paid to how a father’s health may impact on the health of his unborn child. A baby’s health has long been considered a mother’s responsibility and that is not true.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, revealed that in the mice study, male offspring of obese male mice developed pre-diabetic symptoms, even including increased glucose levels with only a few weeks of consuming a high-sugar, high-fat junk food diet. They also developed fatty liver disease.

The second generation mice also had the same symptoms even when their fathers were healthy when they conceived.

“It's worrying because so many people are obese or overweight and many are in their reproductive years ... We need to be aware that dad's health is just as important [as mum's], and has an independent contribution not just to the health of their children but the next generation,” Chang told The Sydney Morning Herald.

According to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, about 63 percent of Australian adults are obese and about 25 percent of Australian children are obese. Compared to 1995, 10 percent more adults are overweight.

The findings of the study suggested that metabolic phenotypes, and not genetic inheritance, were passed on through non-coding RNA in sperm. This means, it is possible to break the cycle of obesity with changes in lifestyle.