Don’t believe the hype. In recent years, there have been stories, maybe somewhat tongue in cheek, that the so-called “dad bod’’ is the new shape of sexy for men. But science has other ideas. Research suggests carrying a few extra pounds can lead to premature death.
A study by Harvard researchers found people who packed on five to 22 pounds before age 55 greatly increased their risk of chronic diseases and premature death. And the more weight they gained, the greater their risk for chronic diseases.
It’s not only dads who need to watch the scale. The study of more than 93,000 participants found women gained an average of 22 pounds over this time, while men gained 19 pounds. Early and middle adulthood is the time of life when people tend to gain weight as their metabolism slows, and their lifestyles get more sedentary.
The study found that for each five-unit increase in body mass index, the risk for cardiovascular death rose 49%, respiratory disease was up 38% and cancer risk was up 19%. This translates into these people being more likely to die earlier than a person who has a healthy body weight.
To be sure, there have been conflicting studies about obesity and mortality. The American Diabetes Association notes that BMI doesn’t take into account fat mass, nutrition, cardiorespiratory fitness, body fat distribution or other factors. A low body weight also could be the result of an underlying illness rather than the cause. What’s more, smokers tend to weigh less than nonsmokers but have much higher mortality rates.
As comforting as it may be to cuddle up with your Papa Bear, you’d be doing him a favor if you helped him stick to a healthy diet … and shed a few pounds.