Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Does fatherhood, or even marriage, make (straight) men fat?

Both CNN (Liza Lucas)  and ABC Good Morning America have recently presented reports about new fathers gaining weight after their wives have children.  CNN’s story  (bluntly titled “Fatherhood makes you fat”) is here. This is based on a new study of body mass index in the American Journal of Men’s Health, abstract here .
CNN refers to John Kinnear’s “Ask Your Dad” blog, where I see a heterosexual dad comments about  SCOTUS and same-sex couples, which I’ll cover on the LGBT blog.
But the main reason for the weight gain seems to be the time that attending to children requires, leaving less time for self-care, working out, or healthy eating.
Less important seemed to be the idea that some men gain weight when getting married, or out of sympathy with pregnant wives.
However, other studies have reported that fathers have reduced testosterone levels when caring for children.  But this may apply only to fathers in heterosexual (usually marital) relationships where they tended to partners when pregnant.  Pheromones from pregnancy might reduce hormonal levels in men.  It would not seem to apply to male couples raising children, and the effect seems to go away with athletic activity (as with pro sports players who  become fathers).  The Family Research Council sometimes tried to use this as an argument against gay marriage.

I would say I know of many counterexamples of marital or fatherhood weight gain.  And I know of an example of pre-marriage weight gain. 
Other studies in the past have reported that gay men typically have slightly lower BMI’s than straight men, which could be partly the result of not being cooked for, and more physical activity (not because of HIV, for example). 

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