Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Biggest Fertility Issue

Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Adobe

Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Adobe

By Tod Fullston, Jemma Evans & Macarena Gonzalez

Emerging evidence indicates that an obese mother or father predisposes their child to obesity via nutritional signals conveyed before birth.

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Australia is currently ranked as one of the fattest nations in the world. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that a staggering 15 million (63%) Australians are overweight (BMI>25, 8.5 million) or obese (BMI>30, 6.5 million), and that the biggest increases are being seen in the morbidly obese class (BMI>40). Obesity is a known risk factor for debilitating diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

More recently the impact on younger people of reproductive age has become evident, with an increased prevalence of obesity coinciding with a decrease in fertility and increased reliance on assisted reproductive technologies (Fig. 1).

It is well-accepted that a woman’s lifestyle affects her fertility, with obesity just as detrimental as smoking and alcohol consumption. It is also becoming clear that obesity impairs a man’s fertility. Couples who have at least one overweight...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.