Science Discovers that Whatever You’re Eating Right Now Will Probably Affect Your Grandchildren

Science, in its ceaseless effort to ruin just about all the good things in the world, is currently doing its level best to ensure that you won’t be able to eat any of the world’s most delicious treats without feeling like you’re destroying the future. Two independent studies involving epigenetics have found that diet, whether healthy or unhealthy, might tweek the nature of your DNA, which change we might then be able to pass onto all those kids and grandkids that people tend to have eventually.

Epigenetics, for anyone who’s just too embarrassed to admit they don’t know, refers to changes in gene expression from outside forces. An epigenetic change is not a mutation because the change doesn’t lie in the DNA itself — it occurs in the DNA’s surroundings, all those enzymes and chemicals that determine how DNA unwinds in different sections in order to make proteins or new cells. A study from Torsten Plosch at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (which built off of an earlier Duke University study) found that there were many ways in which nutrition alters the epigenome in many animals, including humans. There are historical examples of the effects of one generation’s dietary habits on a subsequent generation — children born to mothers during the Dutch famine towards the end of WWII, for example, were susceptible to glucose intolerance and cardiovascular disease.