It’s official, Dad bod is a real thing. Study shows men gain weight when they become dads. Now to move research over proving the severity of the man cold.
In a recent study of 10,253 men published by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, found that young, first-time dads gained an average of 4.4 pounds, while their childless peers actually lost 1.4 pounds. Researchers are calling this the “fatherhood effect,” a mildly academic take on the mid-life males pysique, or popullary known as “dad bod”.
“Fatherhood can affect the health of young men, above the already known effect of marriage,” Craig Garfield, a Northwestern associate professor, said in a 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.”
Weight gain differed for “resident dads” (dads who lived with their children) and those who didn’t. First-time resident dads experienced an average 2.6 percent increase in their BMIs over the study period. Non-resident dads experienced a 2 percent increase. That translates to a 4.4 pound weight gain for a 6-foot-tall dad who lives with his kids and a 3.3 pound weight gain for “”non-resident” dads. As for a similar 6-foot-tall man who had no kids? He lost 1.4 pounds.
The BMI increase may be the result of lifestyle changes, researchers said.
“You have new responsibilities when you have your kids and may not have time to take care of yourself the way you once did in terms of exercise,” Garfield said. “Your family becomes the priority.”
The study started in 1994, with BMI measurements taken of 10,253 men at four different stages in life, ranging between early adolescence and the early-mid 30s. While BMIs generally change over time as men age, the way these men’s changed depended on whether they were dads.
Researchers controlled for other factors that may account for differences in weight gain, such as age, race, education, income, daily activity and marriage status, which is already known to be tied to weight gain.
While the BMI difference appears to be small, researchers state that the estimates are on the “conservative” end.
The findings underscore the need to focus on preventive strategies for new dads, especially since a father’s weight can also influence children’s health outcomes, researchers write.
“We now realize the transition to fatherhood is an important developmental life stage for men’s health,” Garfield said.