Science says fatherhood can make you fat

Father and son enjoy the NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Newcastle Knights in Brisbane. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Men tend to gain weight when they become fathers for the first time, according to a study.

The research found that a 180 cms tall man who lives with his child gained an average of about 2 kgs. Dads not living with their children gained 1.5 kgs.

That’s a 2.6% rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) for resident dads and a 2% in BMI for non-resident dads.

The research findings are based on a US study which tracked the weight of more than 10,000 men from adolescence to young adulthood over 20 years.

This is one of the first studies to examine how fatherhood affects a major marker of health, the BMI (Body Mass Index). The study is published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

“Fatherhood can affect the health of young men, above the already known effect of marriage,” says lead author Craig Garfield, associate professor of pediatrics and of medical social sciences at Northwestern University.

“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.”

New fathers’ weight gain may be due to changes in lifestyle and eating habits.

“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,” Dr Garfield says. “Your family becomes the priority.

“We all know dads who clean their kids’ plates after every meal.”

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