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19 August 2011

Coombe Professor calls for fathers to take better care of health

Professor Michael Turner from the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital today called for fathers in Ireland to take better care of their health by exercising more, by eating more healthily and by stopping smoking. Research from Dr Ross Kelly and his colleagues at the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction in the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital (CWIUH) just published in an Australian Journal found that one in six fathers-to-be in Ireland were obese. Half were also overweight and were likely to become obese as their children grow up.

Professor Michael Turner said "Obese fathers are more likely to get diabetes and heart disease, and they are more likely to die young. This is bad news, not just for fathers, but also for families if they are not able to care for them or provide for mothers and their children through ill health or death. Obese fathers are also 2-4 times more likely to have obese children. Fathers have a responsibility to their children as well as to themselves to promote a healthy lifestyle for all the family. Obesity reverberates through the generations at great cost. We must all work to break this cycle of obesity".

The main findings of this study are as follows:

  • Only 22% of couples were in the normal BMI category
  • Only one of three fathers-to-be had normal BMI
  • One in six fathers was already obese, increasing lifetime risks such as diabetes which may affect his ability to support the family

Previous research at the UCD Centre in the Coombe has shown that maternal obesity is associated with an increase in pregnancy complications for both the mother and her baby, and an increase in pregnancy interventions such as caesarean section.

This new research shows that paternal obesity is as common as maternal obesity in Ireland but that men are twice as likely to be overweight. They also have more visceral fat, known more commonly as a 'beer belly' , which is the fat that carries the highest risk of diabetes and heart disease. Also, 40% continue to smoke which also increases their risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as exposing their children to the risks of passive smoking.

"Some fathers do take responsibility for their own health and the health of their children but all fathers need to do so, " Professor Turner added.


About the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction at the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital (CWIUH)

The UCD Centre for Human Reporduction was established in the Coombe in April 2009. At present there are a number of ongoing research programmes at the Centre on maternal obesity, ultrasound evaluation of fetal growth, and on pregnancy hypertension. The research is carried out using advanced Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis to measure body composition accurately. The programmes are under the supervision of Professor Turner, Dr Mairead Kennelly and Professor Bernard Stuart.

Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital
Cork St.
Dublin 8.

Tel: +353-1-408 5200
Fax: +353-1-453 6033

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