In ironic hipster circles, having a dad bod can be funny and even coveted. But if you’re glossing the pages of a fitness magazine or watching a movie starring Ryan Gosling, you’d get a different impression.
Luckily for the dad bods of the world, some encouraging research comes from Richard Bribiescas, professor of anthropology and ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. His new book, How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality, contends that chubbier dads enjoy longer, healthier lives than dads who look great in speedos.
Gaining a fair amount of weight after fathering children strengthens the immune system, per Bribiescas. This claim bolsters a 2008 study which found that men with high metabolisms were 50% more likely to die (!) in a given year compared to their slow energy-burning counterparts. Vive le dad bod, indeed.
These claims shatter society’s ideal of a man's rippled physique. “Macho makes you sick,” Prof Bribiescas writes in his book. “The Hollywood image of the swaggering, dashing man dispatching bad guys and carrying the day conjures up a perception of indestructibility...“while men are on average larger and physically stronger than women, men have a considerable weakness. We have a harder time fighting off infections and illness compared with women, and… men simply do not take care of themselves.”
Additionally, flabbier dads are more prone to devoting time to their families and children, argues Bribiescas, ostensibly because hot dads are more prone to the temptations of infidelity and being egocentric jerks, or something. Therefore, increased levels of fat also make pudgy dads more attractive to women, according to Briebescas. This finding has been largely true according to the internet's chorus of hot takes.
This is all to say that the research here is something of an outlier. Portliness can segue into obesity, a major health problem in the United States. Being overweight is still a leading cause of disease, and another 2008 study found that belly fat increases the one’s chance of death significantly.
So celebrate your dad bod. But also eat your fruits and vegetables and get to the gym.
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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.