Most Irish people gain excess weight due to larger food portions and an over indulgence in chocolatesGoogle Images

Irish fathers-to-be are being urged to improve their diet, smoking and exercise habits. New research has shown that half of all Irish fathers-to-be are overweight, while one in six are obese.

Research carried out by the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, in Dublin, looked at the pattern among 167 fathers-to-be in Ireland. Professor Michael Turner, one of the authors of the report, said this is bad news for families. Speaking to the Irish Times he said obese fathers are “more likely to die young, leaving children fatherless, and mothers to support the family single handedly."

The study highlights the risk of the ‘beer belly’, which puts people at a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.



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Turner said “Fathers have a responsibility to their children as well as themselves to promote a healthy lifestyle for all the family.”

According to the study, 40 percent of Irish fathers-to-be are smokers. This increases the risk of cancer and also exposes their children to passive smoking.

"Men need motivation to start looking after their health. While women are more likely to adopt a healthy life style if they are trying for a baby, the same is not the case for men," he said.

Turner argues that Ireland needs a health policy to encourage these men to look after themselves. He continued “If there is going to be a successful public health intervention against obesity in Ireland it must embrace the whole family, including the parental unit."

The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.