Marriage makes men gain weight and the early days of fatherhood make the problem worse, a new study by the University of Bath in the U.K. has found.
According to researchers, married men have a higher body mass index (BMI) than men who are unmarried – adding about three pounds to the scales – mostly because of eating less healthily.
When fatherhood hits, men see a further increase in their BMI in the early years after childbirth, but not when their wife becomes pregnant. Men’s BMI, however, begins to fall in the periods just before and after a divorce.
The results, researchers say, confirm a few theories that have been put forth in past research.
First, they say, is that the data shows people who are single but are looking for marriage tend to have more of an incentive to stay fit and make more of an effort than their married counterparts.
The study also proves the theory that marriages lead to attending more social gatherings that often involve rich foods.
“It’s useful for individuals to understand which social factors may influence weight gain, especially common ones such as marriage and parenthood so that they can make informed decisions about their health and well-being,” Dr. Joanna Syrda, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “For married men who want to avoid BMI increases that will mean being mindful of their own changing motivation, behaviour and eating habits.”
The study looked at heterosexual couples in the U.S. between 1999 and 2013, using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.
The study was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.
Higher BMI in men has been linked to other health issues in past research.
According to a 2016 study by the European Association for the Study of Obesity involving 150,000 men, higher BMI and waist circumference are linked with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Researchers round that for every 5kg/m2 increase in BMI, there was a 10 per cent increase in developing the aggressive form of the cancer – and for every 10 centimetres added to the waist circumference, the risk increase rose by 13 per cent.
Another 2016 study, this time by Elsevier Health Sciences in The Netherlands, also found a link between overweight adolescent men and a risk of developing severe liver disease later in life.
If parenthood is preventing moms and dads from hitting the gym, fitness expert Harley Pasternak offers some exercising you can do at home:
- Use your environment: With the weather getting nicer, spend some time outside. Go swimming at the public swimming pool or even utilize that park bench for your squat jumps or press ups.
- Lunges and squats: You don’t need a gym to do these exercises.
- Hand weights: If you don’t have some lying around the house already, purchase some – they’re fairly inexpensive. You don’t need a whole set, Pasternak says. Just start with a pair and work your way up in weight as you get stronger.
– With files from Patricia Kozicka