Usually, we tend to focus on a woman’s weight gain when a couple becomes pregnant – after all, there’s a slowly growing bowling ball where there used to be nothing before. There’s been talk about “sympathy” weight gain by the pregnant woman’s male spouse/significant other, but now there’s actual scientific evidence to support it. Turns out, having a first child causes weight gain in men. There it is, right there in black and white.
Men who become fathers put on extra pounds and show an increase in BMI, according to a new study that tracked more than 10,000 men over a 20-year period. The findings by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine were published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.
“Fatherhood can affect the health of young men, above the already known effect of marriage,” lead author Craig Garfield, an associate professor at Northwestern, said. “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 patterns were different for dads who lived with their kids as opposed to living apart. Not surprisingly, the fathers who lived with their kids gained the most weight, on average – around 4.4. lbs. For dads not living with their offspring, they put on around 3.3 lbs.
But here’s the kicker. Say you’re a man who never had kids? You lose an average of 1.4 lbs. over that same period of time.
The increase may be the result of lifestyle changes, researchers said. Indeed, it makes sense that both men’s and women’s lives are impacted by the daily grind of taking care of a newborn.
“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.”
But what’s a few pounds when you get a lifetime of love? Most dads would agree, we’re sure.