The aetiologies of obesity and type 2 diabetes are incredibly complex, but the potential role of paternal influences remains relatively understudied. A better understanding of paternal influences on offspring risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes could have profound implications for public health, clinical practice and society. In this review, we outline potential biological and social mechanisms through which fathers might exert an impact on the health of their offspring. We also present a systematically compiled overview of the current evidence linking paternal factors to offspring development of obesity and type 2 diabetes throughout the life course. Although evidence is accumulating to support paternal associations with offspring outcomes, more high-quality research is needed to overcome specific methodological challenges and provide stronger causal evidence.
Keywords: Developmental origins of health and disease; Epigenetics; Fathers; Life course development; Obesity; Paternal effects; Review; Type 2 diabetes.