The Science Behind the 'Dad Bod'

| Pregnancy & Parenting

The "Dad Bod" describes a man with a little extra weight in his middle. He's not fat, he's not letting himself go to the point where he can't see his feet; he works around the yard and enjoys a slice of pizza and a beer. Sounds like a normal guy.

The term "Dad Bod" widens the scope of accepted body types for males as desired by females. No longer are women only looking for washboard abs and sinewy muscles; no, the guys with small amounts of squish in their tummies are being snatched up at the same rates. Assuming men don't suffer from the same body image issues is absurd. The "Dad Bod" gives a nod in the direction of everyday men, the ones who spend time with their children instead of relentlessly going to the gym, or the ones who take their girlfriends out for ice cream. Nowhere does the "Dad Bod" describe a guy who is unhealthy; he's got some meat on him, because he's human and enjoys a good meal every now and again.

pizza date

In general, it is more common for men to carry more weight around their middle than other parts of their bodies, such as thighs, hips or butt (which is where women store most of their fat). Dads tend to be a little heavier than non-dads simply because dads are probably a little older. Age is a huge factor in weight gain. The stress hormone, cortisol, could also be a factor in a few extra inches around the mid-section, and what father isn't stressed? And hormones: As we age, both men and women see a decline in their production of progesterone, which leads to too much estrogen in the bodies of both sexes. The result? The body is better at storing fat.

A solid indicator if a man is carrying a dangerous amount of belly fat is if his waist exceeds 40 inches. And belly fat can indeed be dangerous; lots of visceral fat, the fat that surrounds organs in the mid section, can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Relaxing into parenthood may allow waistlines to relax a little bit too. Men and women have much more on their plate to think about when they become parents.

Enjoying a few slices of pizza on a Friday night is OK too. What's sexier than someone who is comfortable in their own skin? Unhealthy amounts of weight gain is dangerous. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits are always key elements in living a long, healthy life. But that doesn't mean excluding all vices altogether. And, that doesn't mean the guy who decides to grab a beer with a girl is any less manly than the other guy beefing up at the gym.

Like women, guys need to be given a break in the "perfect body" department. Maybe he's stressed out, maybe he's going through emotional issues, or maybe he just likes a nice steak. Why not support men with the exact type of body-positivity we crave and promote?

>> Read here about body shaming and why it needs to stop!