Even though all of us – men and women alike – tend to gain some weight as we age, new research pinpoints fatherhood, specifically, related to modest weight gain in some men.
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In a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, researchers looked at a database of 10,263 men beginning when they were 12 years old and followed them for up to 20 years.
They analyzed how body mass index (BMI), a combination of height and weight, increased slightly over time if men became fathers. However, there are limits in interpreting the results of this study, according to medical weight management specialist Karen Cooper, DO.
Muscle vs. fat
“If you gain weight, your BMI can rise, but it is not an accurate measurement. It cannot differentiate between the weight gain from an increase in lean muscle mass versus an increase in fat mass,” she says.
She says that it’s important to understand that the increase in BMI could be a result of increased muscle mass from new dads being more active with their newborn and accompanying responsibilities, such as regularly hoisting a baby, car seat and armloads of groceries, for example, and not necessarily increased caloric intake.
“However, diagnostic testing such as use of calipers, electrode impulses or the gold standard, hydrostatic weighing, would be necessary to differentiate between the two,” she says.
Takeaway for dads
Rather than focusing on BMI, expectant dads may benefit more from being mindful of their food choices and portion sizes as well as being physically active, once their child is born.