Glucose is a major energy source and is a key regulator of metabolism but excessive dietary glucose is linked to several disorders including type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiac dysfunction. Dietary intake greatly influences organismal survival but whether the effects of nutritional status are transmitted to the offspring is an unresolved question. Here we show that exposing Caenorhabditis elegans to high glucose concentrations in the parental generation leads to opposing negative effects on fecundity, while having protective effects against cellular stress in the descendent progeny. The transgenerational inheritance of glucose-mediated phenotypes is dependent on the insulin/IGF-like signalling pathway and components of the histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylase complex are essential for transmission of inherited phenotypes. Thus dietary over-consumption phenotypes are heritable with profound effects on the health and survival of descendants.