A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Dad bod: Desirable or dangerous?

Illustration - Man holding dumbbell in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other hand

Dad bod doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy, but packing too many pounds around your waist could cause heart trouble.

Have you heard the term dad bod?

Dad bod refers to a guy who looks like he goes to the gym occasionally and knows his way around a six-pack (of beer) and a large pepperoni pizza.

“It’s a nice balance between a beer gut and working out,” according to the writer who coined the term.

Guys: Keep reading if this sounds like you.

Is dad bod unhealthy?

The answer depends on your diet and exercise habits, said Dr. Ivan Schaller, a Marshfield Clinic internal medicine physician.

The good news: Having a dad bod doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy. Guys who eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy weight can have a dad bod.

The bad news: If you have a dad bod because you binge on beer and pizza, your habits will catch up to you over time and put you at risk for health problems.

When dad bod becomes dangerous

A little belly isn’t a big deal, but you could be in trouble if it gets too big.

Some guys are genetically predisposed to central obesity, characterized by an overly large belly and skinny limbs. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men means increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Although dad bod refers to men, “gaining weight around the middle can happen to any adult,” Schaller said. Women with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches are at risk for the same health problems.

Evenly distributed weight gain is safer than packing pounds around your waist, but too much extra weight anywhere can hurt. Literally. Being overweight puts stress on the joints, which can lead to osteoarthritis.

Your body mass index (BMI) will indicate if you’re gaining too much weight. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight.

Focus on healthy living

You don’t have to stop eating beer and pizza, but you should think about making changes to help you live longer and better.

“Keep it straightforward and not overly complicated,” Schaller said. “It’s better to make basic changes that will last a lifetime.”

Eat a balanced diet that consists mostly of lean proteins, veggies, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Limit pizza to a couple slices at a time and don’t binge drink. It’s safer for men to have two drinks every day than 14 drinks on the weekend.

Make 30 minutes of exercise five times a week a habit. It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise. Walking regularly will improve blood pressure, cholesterol and longevity.

Don’t get too caught up in how you look in the mirror, Schaller said.

“Its not about having washboard abs,” he said. “It’s about getting the exercise in.”

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