Fatherhood & Weight Gain: Up or Down?

Research Paper Title

Longitudinal Study of Body Mass Index in Young Males and the Transition to Fatherhood.


Despite a growing understanding that the social determinants of health have an impact on body mass index (BMI), the role of fatherhood on young men’s BMI is understudied. This longitudinal study examined BMI in young men over time as they transitioned from adolescence into fatherhood in a nationally representative sample.


Data from all four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health supported a 20-year longitudinal analysis of 10,253 men beginning in 1994. A “fatherhood-year” data set was created and changes in BMI were examined based on fatherhood status (non-father, non-resident father, resident father), fatherhood years, and covariates.


Though age is positively associated with BMI over all years for all men, comparing non-resident and resident fathers with non-fathers reveals different trajectories based on fatherhood status. Entrance into fatherhood is associated with an increase in BMI trajectory for both non-resident and resident fathers, while non-fathers exhibit a decrease over the same period. In this longitudinal, population-based study, fatherhood and residence status play a role in men’s BMI.


Designing obesity prevention interventions for young men that begin in adolescence and carry through young adulthood should target the distinctive needs of these populations, potentially improving their health outcomes.


Garfield, G.F., Duncan, G., Gutina, A., Rutsohn, J., McDade, T.W., Adam, E.K., Coley, R.L. & Chase-Lansdale, P.L. (2015) Longitudinal Study of Body Mass Index in Young Males and the Transition to Fatherhood. American Journal of Mens Health. Published online before print July 21, 2015, doi: 10.1177/1557988315596224.


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