New dads – watch out. When that baby arrives you just might find yourself putting on the pounds. Experts who tracked 10,000 men for two decades from their teens through their early thirties found that dads were more likely to put on weight in the years after their first child arrived. Men who had no children, in contrast, actually lost weight over the period.
The researchers, who published their work in the American Journal of Men’s Health, said that fathers who put on weight were at higher risk for health problems. The study leader from Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Craig Garfield, 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.”
Ironically, the researchers found that even fathers who didn’t live with their children put on this weight, although they didn’t do so as quickly as did live-in dads.
They found, overall, for a six foot tall man, that those who had a first child put on 4.4 pounds, those who had a child but didn’t live with their children put on 3.3 pounds and men who didn’t have children lost 1.4 pounds.
Dr. Garfield emphasized that the study should teach general practitioners to speak with their patients about their health. As he said, “New dads are coming into the health care system as a paediatric chaperone.This is an opportunity to talk about things that are important for dads’ health and the child’s health and to offer dads nutritional counselling and mental health education.We now realise the transition to fatherhood is an important developmental life stage for men’s health.It’s a magical moment where so many things change in a man’s life. Now the medical field needs to think about how can we help these men of child-rearing age who often don’t come to the doctor’s office for themselves.”