The Dad Bod
The ‘Dad Bod’; the Internet is abuzz about it.
Apparently the term has been used by teenagers for years, but only last month entered mainstream usage. This was a result of student, Mackenzie Pearson, in Clemson University, writing for her college website an article ‘Why Girls Love The Dad Bod’
Essentially Pearson writes the ‘Dad Bod’ is not about having a chiselled six pack but rather a figure that says:
‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily at weekends and enjoy eating right slices of pizza at a time’
So should we be celebrating this body type?
In her article Pearson dwells very much on the pros of the aesthetics of this figure type.
As a women and a wife I’m going to keep my opinions about this between me and my Mr Dad with a Bod; who incidentally does not like the term.
As a doctor I’m not interested in appearances but rather what a body type might mean for an individual’s health.
Pearson goes onto say in a later interview that the man with the ‘Dad Bod’ just looks like your average healthy guy
A healthy looking Guy?
Defining health is complex, so I’ll content myself with using the current definition from the World Health Organisation:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
How does this fit with the ‘Dad Bod’?
In my reading, no-one has said it explicitly, but part of the appeal of this figure is that it appears to belong to someone who has a good balance between these three aspects of health; the physical, social and emotional.
To paraphrase Peasrson, the man with a ‘Dad Bod’ looks as if he cares for his physical health by exercising at least occasionally; emotionally, he’s not that hung up on his appearance or adhering to a strict ‘health regime’ and he looks as if he has a fun social life.
I am definitely an advocate for health encompassing these three important domains.
However, Mr ‘Dad Bod’ I can’t really tell much about your health by your appearance. How you look does not tell me anything about your emotions or social life. I have no idea if you have a good body image, just because you have an average build. Just as I cannot guess how much you enjoy pizza. Or alcohol for that matter.
In fact I cannot even make the assumption that you are physically healthy from your body type.
I might be able to make a rough gauge of your body mass index by looking at you, but that is about it.
Body mass index is a calculation of weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. A healthy body mass index is generally between 18.5-25.
So Mr ‘Dad Bod’ even if I assume you conform to the outlined definition of your physique what might this mean for your health?
Well I’m all for you eating the occasional pizza if it’s good for your emotional and social wellbeing but be careful to keep an eye on your BMI especially when you reach for that seventh or eighth slice.
Then Mr ‘Dad Bod’ I’d like to know how much you actually drink; the Royal College of Physicians recommends no more than 21 units per week for men, with 2-3 alcohol free days to recover after drinking.
I’m afraid according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre Statistics from 2014, among men who had drunk alcohol in the preceding week, 55% drunk more than the recommended daily amount.
So if you ‘drink heavily’ on the weekends I suspect you may be over doing it. You are not advised to regularly drink more than 3-4 units per day.
Then there’s your exercise. How much does ‘going to the gym occasionally’ really mean? As an 19-64 year old guy you should be doing at least 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week, in addition to twice weekly muscle strengthening activities.
Perhaps I am taking Mr ‘Dad Bod’ a little too seriously, after all as I suggested earlier he doesn’t really exist.
At work I am taught to use visual clues to about a person’s health right from the start of an examination. But in real life we can sometimes make assumptions based on physical appearance all too easily.
Essentially it is unhelpful to label a person according to physique. We are all individuals.
So the current internet obsession with the ‘Dad Bod’ may have given a few men the confidence to strut their bodies via Instagram. A bit of fun and a bit of body positivity is a good thing.
But ultimately, despite Person’s summary description, we cannot rely on this to tell anything useful about an individual’s emotional, social or physical wellbeing.
The outward appearance a ‘Dad Bod’ or any other physique does not actually tell me anything that really matters to me; either professionally about their health, or personally about the man behind the bod.