Be­com­ing a dad? Ex­pect to gain 3 to 5 pounds, study sug­gests

The Progress-Index - At Home - - FATHERHOOD WEIGHT GAIN - By Mike Stobbe

NEW YORK — Many men gain a new sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and pur­pose when they be­come fathers. A new study sug­gests they also gain 3 to 5 pounds.

The re­search wasn't de­signed to prove fa­ther­hood causes weight gain and raises more ques­tions than it an­swers. But one out­side ex­pert, while not­ing its lim­i­ta­tions, said the re­search is provoca­tive and should spark fur­ther study.

Doc­tors pay at­ten­tion to the weight gain of moth­ers — both be­fore and af­ter preg­nancy. But the waist­line of dads? That's not on most doc­tors' radar, said Tom Wad­den, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia's Cen­ter for Weight and Eat­ing Dis­or­ders.

The study's lead au­thor — Dr. Craig Garfield of North­west­ern Univer­sity — said he could only spec­u­late about what's be­hind the ex­tra pounds.

"For men who be­come fathers, their whole life changes," Garfield said. They may sleep less, ex­er­cise less, and ex­pe­ri­ence more stress — all of which can lead to weight gain, he said.

It doesn't help that the food se­lec­tion at home may grad­u­ally change to in­clude more things like "mak­ing cho­co­late chip cook­ies with the kids," said Garfield. A dad him­self, Garfield said his weak­ness is fin­ish­ing his kids' leftover cheese pizza.

For their work, the re­searchers looked at re­sults from another study, which tracked the health of ado­les­cents over two decades. The re­searchers fo­cused on teen boys and young men, com­par­ing weight changes in the 3,400 who be­came dads and the 6,800 who didn't.

The re­searchers made sta­tis­ti­cal ad­just­ments to iron out the po­ten­tial in­flu­ences on weight gain by other fac­tors, like age and mar­riage.

Sim­ply by be­com­ing a first-time dad, a typ­i­cal 6-foot-tall man who lives with his child can ex­pect to gain an av­er­age of about 4½ ex­tra pounds, the study sug­gested. A same-sized man who does not live with his child can ex­pect to gain nearly 3½ pounds.

But a 6-foot man who does not have chil­dren typ­i­cally had a weight gain that was 1½ pounds less than would oth­er­wise have been ex­pected, the re­searchers found.

The study checked weights of the men at four times over the two decades. The re­searchers were not able to de­ter­mine at what point in time dads put on the weight. Most of it could have gone on dur­ing the preg­nancy, Wad­den noted.

The study found men who lived with their chil­dren were a lit­tle heav­ier to be­gin with, on av­er­age, and ended up heav­ier than the ab­sent fathers and the men who didn't have kids.

Nearly three-quar­ters of U.S. men are over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics.

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