A link between fatherhood and weight gain

A link between fatherhood and weight gain

As the term “dad bod” gains popularity, new research suggests that fatherhood could cause men to pack on the pounds.

Researchers tracked the weight of more than 10,000 men from their teen years to young adulthood and found that a typical 6-foot-tall man who lives with his child gained an average of 4.4 pounds and the dad not living with his child gained about 3.3 pounds.

“I think there is a real link between the fatherhood effect and ‘dad bods,’” says Dr. Patrick Esposito, pediatrician on staff at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Men who have been active in sports or other physical routines find that having a child puts a huge strain on free time.”

Over the 20 years of the study, all 10,253 participants had their body mass index (BMI) measured at four different time periods – early teens, late teens, mid-20s and early 30s. Researchers controlled other factors attributed to weight gain such as age, race, education, income, daily activity, screen time, and marriage status.

“Fatherhood can affect the health of young men, above the already known effect of marriage,” said Dr. Craig Garfield, lead author from Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine and pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, in a news release. “The more weight the fathers gain and the higher their BMI, the greater risk they have for developing heart disease as well as diabetes and cancer.”

Dr. Esposito says he has seen a fair number of dads gain weight after having a child, but has never been asked for weight or dieting advice.

“Unless they make a very strong effort, that loss of activity will definitely cause an increase in their weight and loss of tone,” he says.

The best advice for dads would be to realize that being a father may make them less active. Dr. Esposito recommends that, if possible, dads try to find a specific time to work out regularly. If they cannot, they will need to watch their eating habits and avoid easy snacks.

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One Comment

  1. Who says becoming a dad necessarily results in “loss of activity”? So many of my friends and relatives are new parents, and I see these new dads constantly running around- working, being a husband & father, and trying to squeeze in everything else with very limited time. I get the general idea presented in this article- that the loss of free time might not let dads get to the gym as much- but I have some huge questions about the research. For example, were the men with children were found to gain those pounds over a certain period of time? Did men living with kids gain an average of 4.4 pounds over their entire lifetime? Or a year? Or 10 years? That many pounds doesn’t seem very significant if it were gained over the course of a man’s entire life… Also, who says that the weight was put on BECAUSE the men had children? How many pounds did men without any children gain on average? I think this is an interesting concept to explore, but we need some solid research before drawing such big conclusions. Dr. Esposito’s statement “Unless they make a very strong effort, that loss of activity will definitely cause an increase in their weight and loss of tone” is something we do not DEFINITELY know, and it has never been proven that becoming a dad actually does result in a loss of activity. Let’s give some props to all the dads out there and understand that time changes all of us, and maybe those extra 3-4 lbs are worth all the joy and happiness a child can bring, and not something to be worried about thanks to social media.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.