The Dangers of a Dad Bod

While the dad bod may be socially cool, from a health perspective it's dangerous.

Are you a man (or know of one) who assumes that carrying a “spare tire” around the belly is inevitable? This body type is affectionately referred to as a “dad bod,” but there’s nothing endearing about it when it comes to your health. And, in fact, it can signify a number of serious medical conditions or even lead to premature death.

Over half of all men in the MDVIP Men’s Health Survey said it’s okay to have a dad bod. In this case, the majority doesn’t rule. While a dad bod may appear harmless and be socially accepted by most men, it’s a red flag, and here’s why.

Losing muscle tone, especially in the midsection comes with age, but having excess belly fat, specifically visceral fat, can be dangerous. This kind of fat is found deeper inside the stomach, under the abdominal muscles and around vital organs. It secretes hormones and lipids — such as triglycerides — that are harmful to the body. As a result, it can raise your risk for chronic health problems, like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, which the U.S. statistics show are an increasing concern for men:

  • One in three men have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Three in four men are overweight or obese, and research shows that being just 22 pounds overweight causes a 24 percent increase in risk for having a stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes doubles a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

Don’t be a statistic. 

If you occasionally step on the scale to check your weight, all you’re seeing is a number. What the scale isn’t telling you is where you are carrying your weight. You may not be obese from a weight perspective, but you could be from a waist perspective. And, if you’re at a normal weight but have excess belly fat, you’re at a higher risk of early death than someone who is just overweight or obese. For this reason, your waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) are also important indicators of overall health.

Alarmingly, the MDVIP survey showed that nearly half of all men never discuss weight management with their doctor. A primary care physician can help you learn your numbers and look at the whole picture to determine what those extra pounds mean and how to mitigate any serious risks. They can also establish your baseline, which is a critical starting point for setting and achieving health goals that include physical and mental wellness. 

Dad bods are increasingly regarded as a desired body type, but they are not reflective of the true picture of good health. Don’t let the dad bod hype be an excuse to order those extra-large fries. And maybe skip the ice cream, too.

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