CHICAGO – You must have seen mostly men who gain weight when they become father for the first time.
Men who become fathers experience weight gain and an increase in body mass index, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight, according to a new, large-scale study that tracked more than 10,000 men over a 20-year period.
Men who didn’t become dads actually lost weight over the same time period.
The researchers, whose work is published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, said fathers’ weight gain puts them at higher risk of health problems.
Study leader Dr Craig Garfield, of Northwestern University in Chicago, said, ‘The more weight the fathers gain and the higher their body mass index, the greater risk they have for developing heart disease as well as diabetes and cancer.’
‘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,’ he said.
‘Your family becomes the priority. Eating habits may also change as families buy children’s treats such as ice cream and cookies,’ he said.
But the researchers found that even fathers who did not live with their children put on weight, although not as fast as live-at-home dads.
The team tracked 10,253 American men from early adolescence into their early 30s.
They found that those who became fathers saw an average 2.6 per cent rise in their BMI from becoming a father until the end of the study.
For a six-foot-tall man that is the equivalent of putting on 4.4lb (2kg) from the birth of their first child.
Men who became fathers but did not live with their children put on 2 per cent of their BMI, or 3.3lb for a six-foot man and men who did not have a child lost 1.4lb.
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