The Dad Bod: A Study of a Cultural Phenomenon

The term “Dad Bod” has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years, with many men embracing the softer, less-toned physique that is associated with being a middle-aged father. But what is the science behind the Dad Bod, and is it a healthy or desirable state?

A study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health in 2019 found that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) were more likely to have children, suggesting that the Dad Bod may be an evolutionary adaptation. The study found that men with a BMI of 30 or higher (considered obese) had a 71% higher chance of having children compared to men with a BMI of 25 or lower.

Richard G. Bribiescas, a professor of anthropology at Yale University, published a book in 2018 titled “How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality,” which included a chapter on the Dad Bod phenomenon. In the chapter, Bribiescas argues that the Dad Bod may be the result of an evolutionary adaptation that helps middle-aged men conserve energy and invest more in their offspring.

Bribiescas suggests that as men age, their testosterone levels decrease, which can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat. However, this may actually be a beneficial adaptation, as it can help men conserve energy for activities such as providing for and protecting their children. Additionally, the increase in body fat may lead to higher levels of estrogen, which can have health benefits such as improved immune function and decreased risk of osteoporosis.

While Bribiescas’ theory is not without controversy, it does offer an interesting perspective on the Dad Bod phenomenon and its potential evolutionary origins. However, it’s important to note that the Dad Bod is not necessarily in a healthy state and that fitness and nutrition should always be a priority for overall health and well-being.

However, other studies have found that carrying excess weight, particularly around the midsection, can increase the risk of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or more had a higher risk of dying from any cause compared to men with a waist circumference of fewer than 35 inches.

While the Dad Bod may be seen as a cultural trend and even a sign of masculinity, it’s important to prioritize fitness and nutrition for overall health and well-being. Exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of chronic health problems and improve quality of life.