The Dreaded ‘Dad Bod’

Maureen Robb's picture
By Maureen Robb on September 9, 2015

It isn’t only women who gain weight when starting a family. The average new dad puts on 3 ½ to 4 ½ pounds.

That is the finding of a new study by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said to be the first of its kind, on the dreaded “Dad bod.” The conclusions were reported in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

During the study, new fathers also had an increase in their body mass index (BMI), which measures body fat. Researchers suggested that lifestyle changes, such as adopting new sleep and eating habits, and having less time to exercise, may be the culprit.

“Many men need ‘milestones’ to serve as a reminder of the importance of their being healthy not just for themselves, but also for their loved ones,” said Mark H. Greenawald, M.D., vice chair of academic affairs and professional development for Carilion Clinic’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“The transition to fatherhood provides one such milestone,” Dr. Greenawald said. “I recommend men seize this opportunity and take a trip to their primary care physician BEFORE their child is born so together they can do an honest health assessment and plan for this major and life-altering change."

“Additionally, the time of pregnancy should provide a time for the couple to discuss together how they want to create a healthy lifestyle and how they can support each other in these efforts," added Greenawald. "Doing so is not always easy, but it's worth it. Teaching our children how to be healthy by modeling it ourselves is a priceless legacy for them AND for us. Seems like a bargain to me!”   

Good luck to all the new dads out there who are navigating this new stage in their lives.