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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