The upsides of having a 'dad bod'

Seth Rogen sported a dad bod in <i>Bad Neigbours</i>.
Seth Rogen sported a dad bod in Bad NeigboursPhoto: Supplied

Men with "dad bods" are healthier, more attractive to women and more likely to live longer, according to the author of a new book.

In How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality, anthropology professor Richard Bribiescas says there's actually an upside to the weight older men often gain after they become fathers

Professor Bribiescas told The Telegraph that a little extra padding due to testosterone levels dropping can actually strengthen the immune system. 

He also cites evidence that "pudgy" men are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and prostate cancer.

"Macho makes you sick," said Professor Bribiescas. "The Hollywood image of the swaggering, dashing man dispatching bad guys and carrying the day conjures up a perception of indestructibility."

And yet, despite on average being larger and physically stronger than women, men have a "considerable weakness".

"We have a harder time fighting off infections and illness compared with women, and ... men simply do not take care of themselves.

"This has a significant negative impact on the pace at which men age."

There's yet another added bonus of the dad bod, too: Professor Bribiescas explains that a little extra "pudge" makes men more likely to invest time caring for their children than chasing other women.

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"[One] effect of lower testosterone levels is loss of muscle mass and increases in fat mass," Professor Bribiescas writes in his book.

"This change in body composition not only causes men to shop for more comfortable trousers but also facilitates increased survivorship and, hypothetically, a hormonal milieu that would more effectively promote and support paternal investment."

The term "dad bod" entered our vernacular last year, when Mackenzie Pearson penned an essay for Odyssey, "Why Girls Love the Dad Bod". In it, she said that the dad bod is a nice balance between "a beer gut and working out". 

She writes, "The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time'."

Shortly afterwards, a study published in American Journal of Men's Health confirmed that men do, indeed, pile on the pounds after becoming fathers. The authors described a so-called "fatherhood effect" with dads gaining around 3.5-4.5 pounds (1.5-2kg) after welcoming their first baby. The research, which spanned 20 years and included over 10,000 men, suggested that changes in lifestyle factors and eating habits were the likely culprits.

"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," the study's lead author, Dr Craig Garfield, said in a statement at the time. "Your family becomes the priority"

And our kids' leftover chicken nuggets don't help, either.

"We all know dads who clean their kids' plates after every meal," he said.

While Professor Bribiesca might be hailing the dad bod, Dr Garfield instead highlighted the risks of gaining too much weight. "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."