By Ross Walker

We are often told (by me included) that the five keys to good health are the most important initiatives for a long and healthy life. These include having no addictions, good quality sleep, good quality eating, a three-five hour exercise habit and of course, happiness. Although this is correct in my opinion, I often say that it is also a good idea to pick the right relatives!

Clearly, I am referring to inheriting good genes, but recent research suggests that even this may not be enough.

There have been a number of studies (some of which I have discussed in previous articles) reporting how maternal health in the preconception phase may impact the health of the children for many years to come.

However, by purely focusing on maternal health at the time of conception, we are missing 50% of the relationship.

It appears that the health of the father may also have significant repercussions. One particular factor is the weight of the father at the time of conception.

A recent study, albeit in mice, from Sydney's Victor Chang Institute, has demonstrated that the male offspring of obese male mice developed fatty liver disease and pre-diabetic symptoms within a few weeks of consuming an equivalent junk food diet.

This tendency also appeared to be passed on to the grandchildren of the obese mice.

Just as disturbing, was the evidence from another recent study in America, again in mice, showing that the female pups of obese male mice were more likely to develop breast cancer.

All of this evidence shows that as parents, we are not just passing on genes to our children, but that our own personal environment-induced epi-genetic changes may also be having a significant deleterious effect.

Many people would argue that how you treat your own body is your own business. Although this may be true, it now appears that how you treat your own body may have a significant impact on your children, and possibly future generations to come.

The question I put to you is, can you justify this? It clearly appears that having a healthy body, in all aspects of life, at the time of conception, whether you be male or female, is vitally important for the development of healthy children.

My strong advice is to think very carefully before you act.