Does Having a “Dad Bod” Put Your Health at Risk?
Published | 8 min read
The world has come to embrace the “dad bod” as an endearing body type that exemplifies the loving family man. Find out if it possesses health issues.
A relatively recent survey in the United States shows that about 60% of people are fans of the “dad bod”. There’s no shortage of dad bods in Malaysia too, so it’s heartening to know that societies tend to be forgiving of the changes that happen to our bodies as we grow older (we hope they will embrace mum bods too!).
Often described as being a male body that packs a few extra kilos in the midsection, the dad bod is most often associated with men in their late twenties through their fifties, coinciding with the age that some men become fathers.
We spoke to
Physical Changes in Your Mid-Thirties
You’ve been a lean, mean, athletic
For many men, the dad bod starts showing right around the early to mid-thirties age range, when life responsibilities begin to pick up and there’s less time for keeping up with regular exercise. “I started noticing that I had a dad bod in my early thirties when my wife pointed out my big tummy, and my pants didn’t fit as well. This was about five or six years after we had our two young sons who are still in primary
Similarly, Ibrahim (not his real name), a 44-year-old general manager of a security company, also recalls developing a dad bod about ten years ago in his early to mid-thirties, when his oldest daughter was eight.
Having a Dad Bod Increases the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
As a man’s body begins to age and their metabolism slows, life stresses, excess calories, and a more sedentary lifestyle can all lead to gaining more visceral fat, which is fat that wraps around the vital organs.
Although called a dad bod, this body type is not just reserved for fathers. Raj (not his real name), a managing director of a business development company, is 34 and has no children. He too noticed that he started developing a dad bod in his early thirties. “I started noticing my body changing a couple of years ago, when I turned 32. The fat distribution is different – I have more excess fat around my stomach,” he shares.
Is There a Way to Have a Healthy “Dad Bod”?
Body aesthetics and vanity aside, it is more important to focus on improving your health. Among the signs that your dad bod is posing some health risks is a lack of physical stamina and mobility. “I get tired very easily, and I don’t feel as fit as before,” Bernard shares.
Raj also complains that he now has less mobility and is starting to develop food sensitivities owing to his less-than-optimal health. For Ibrahim, he wants to keep up with his daughter. “My wife and I have a young toddler and I want to be able to play with her without getting tired so quickly,” he
Manage diet, exercise, and stress
Not surprisingly, love handles and a dad bod often have a lot to do
Another habit that has affected nearly all urbanised societies is
Improving diet and exercise goes hand in hand with stress management. “Fortunately, I’ve always loved being sporty because it’s a stress reliever for me. Every other weekend, as a family we go to the park and do different activities together. In addition to it being exercise time, it’s also great family time,” Ibrahim happily recalls. “Don’t give up, keep moving and exercising!”
Enabling Your Body to be the Best “Bod” It Can Be
The dad bod, especially the characteristic love handles, is contributed by chronic work stress and unhealthy dietary habits according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). “This causes Spleen Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, resulting in the formation and accumulation of stagnant fluids, Dampness, and phlegm in the body. With the addition of adopting a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, these pathogenic factors will tend to build up around the abdomen, giving rise to love handles,” Real Medical Senior Physician
Physician Yew also shares that many TCM modalities such as acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, gua sha (scraping) and tuina (Chinese manual therapy) and
- He gu (LI4, 合谷)
- Zu san li (ST36, 足三里)
- Yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉)
- Feng long (ST40, 丰隆)
- Tai chong (LR3, 太沖)
- Zhong wan (RN12, 中脘)
- Tian shu (ST25, 天枢)
- Da heng (SP15, 大横)
- Jing men (GB25, 京门)
Dai mai(GB26, 带脉)
However, it is recommended to check with a TCM professional regarding the proper acupressure technique to perform and the suitability of these points based on your unique body constitution. This is to avoid unwanted side effects and potential injuries. In addition, do take note that the effects of acupressure are limited. Getting acupuncture treatment instead will derive much better outcomes.
You can also work with a licensed TCM practitioner to try herbal formulas that help strengthen Spleen qi and dispel Dampness and phlegm such as Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi (香砂六君子) and Xing Sha Ping Wei San (香砂平胃散). Single-herb formulations like Cordyceps sinensis mycelia (zhong guo chong cao, 中国虫草) are great for energy and metabolism.
- StudyFinds.org. 2022. Summer of love handles! 6 in 10 Americans are more attracted to men with a dad bod! [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- Urology of Virginia. 16 Reasons You Can’t Get Rid of Your Love Handles. [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- National Academy of Sports Medicine. No Love for Those Love Handles: Dispelling Myths About Body Fat Reduction. [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Ditch the Dreaded ‘Dad Bod’. [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- Pacific College of Health and Science. 2019. Acupuncture Can Help with Weight Loss. [Accessed 6 June 2022].
- International Journal of Microbiology. 2015. Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life. [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- Health Direct, Department of Health, Australian Government. 2021. How to reduce visceral body fat (hidden fat). [Accessed 2 July 2022].
- Obesity Reviews. 2020. Visceral obesity and incident cancer and cardiovascular disease: An integrative review of the epidemiological evidence. [Accessed 6 July 2022].
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