Poor diet followed by ancestors is among the reasons why people in India and other developing countries are more susceptible to obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Anandwardhan A. Hardikar, associate professor at the University of Sydney, along with researchers from Pune-based National Centre for Cell Science, KEM Hospital and D Y Patil Medical College, have presented the findings of their study, “Multi-generational Undernutrition and Diabetes”, in the July 10 online edition of journal Cell Metabolism.
The 12-year-old study shows that the middle-class in developing countries is more susceptible than western Caucasians to obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases because of their ancestors’ poor dietary habits.
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While Hardikar, the lead scientist in the study, was unavailable for comment, Dr Sarang Satoor, a scientist at National Centre for Cell Science and co-author of the study, told The Indian Express that the findings could explain the projections that more than 70 per cent of the global burden of type-2 diabetes will fall on people from developing countries by 2030.
The research team, which also included professor Mahesh Karandikar from D Y Patil Medical College, conducted the study of two groups of rats. The first was undernourished for 50 generations and then put on a normal diet for two generations. The second maintained a normal diet for 52 generations. The study found that when the descendants of the first group were exposed to a normal diet, this did not reverse the epigenetic modifications made by their undernourished forebears. These rats were eight times more likely to develop diabetes and multiple metabolic defects as compared to the second group. “Their adverse metabolic state was not reversed by two generations of nutrient recuperation through a normal diet,” Hardikar says in the study. “Instead, this newly prosperous population favoured storage of excess nutrients as fat, leading to increased obesity, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic risk for diabetes when compared to their ‘developed world’ counterparts.”