Study Confirms: The Dad Bod Is Real

Study Confirms: The Dad Bod Is Real

You’ve probably already heard of the ‘dad bod’ on your favourite social media pages.

This body type went viral a few months ago, as women rejoiced over this relaxed body type.

Apparently, the dad bod is the new pin up body shape. A dad bod can easily be summed up as a man who sometimes works out, and sometimes doesn’t. A dad bod owner doesn’t spend every evening at the gym, and he isn’t worried about enjoying the odd slice of pizza and a beer.

He’s not obese, but he’s far from ripped.

And now, here comes the breaking news: the dad bod’s existence has been backed up by science.

A recent study by Northwestern University — as published in the American Journal of Men’s Health — found that men put weight on when they become fathers. The study followed more than 10,000 men over a 20 year period. The participants were split into categories; non-fathers, resident fathers and non-resident fathers. The Body Mass Indexes (BMI) of the participants were measured throughout the study, allowing researchers to draw conclusions as to how fatherhood affects weight.

The study found men who became fathers gained weight and experienced an increase in their BMI. Fathers who lived in the same house as their children experienced a higher increase in their BMI than fathers who lived separately.

The non-fathers lost weight over the same period. For a six foot man, the average resident father put on around 4.4 pounds during the study. For non-fathers of the same height, an average of 1.4 pounds was lost over the course of the study.

What Causes The Weight Gain?

Lifestyle is thought to be one of the major causes behind this weight gain. Simply put, men just simply don’t have as much time to care for themselves once they become fathers. The amount of free time available to spend at the gym or playing sports may be reduced.

Poor diet may also be to blame, with many new parents struggling to find the time to eat properly. Convenience foods can easily become the norm, and these tend to be higher in fat than freshly prepared home cooked meals.

Many parents work long hours, then play hard with their kids when they get home from the office. That doesn’t leave much time for exercise, and it doesn’t leave much energy for much else.

If you’ve noticed a couple of extra pounds creeping on since you became a father, or worry you might be at risk, don’t worry. If you’re unhappy or feeling unhealthy, a few simple changes to your lifestyle could be all you need to improve your health, shake off the dad bod and leave yourself feeling better.

Why Is This Study Important?

It may not sound like much of a weight gain, but even a couple of pounds can have a detrimental impact on health.

A higher BMI is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Just a few pounds could increase your risk of health problems and take a few years off your life.

Your health is just as important as it was before you became a father, in fact, it could be argued it’s more important these days.

How Can Dad Bod Affect Your Children?

It’s worth noting that children are influenced by parental activity levels. If you want your child to be fit and healthy with a passion for sports, you need to model this lifestyle yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to become a permanent fixture at your local gym, but that you need to make fitness a top priority for your family. Schedule in a weekly football game, ditch the car in favour of walking long journeys, or try to head out on regular family bike rides when possible.

It’s important to look carefully at your diet. Are you eating the right foods, and in the right amounts? If you’re relying on take outs or skipping meals in favour of convenient (but unhealthy) snacks, that could be one of your problems. Cutting out sugars and grains can make a big difference alone.

Most parents try to ensure their kids eat the best diet possible, so try to apply the same logic to yourself. Plan meals in advance, look for healthy alternatives and try to cut out junk food to see if this could help.

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Last Updated: August 22, 2015


Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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