This is an interesting finding because I swear that having children increases your stress and theoretically would increase your risk for heart disease (among other diseases). And don’t forget the fact that your toddlers develop a taste for fast food which you don’t want to waste so you eat the leftovers! And the high-intensity exercise sessions you used to do become family-friendly sessions that include easy walks in the park, playing the park, sitting watching your kids play in the park, etc. etc.
I am not saying that is all bad but parents need to be careful that their attention to physical activity and nutrition is not diverted!
If you look at the numbers there doesn’t seem to be a big difference between 2-3 kids (less risk than 1 or 4=>) compared to no kids. Intuitively you would think the larger family would cause more problems leading to increased stress and Cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity [the # of people who have it] and mortality [death caused by it]! I think that is what happened to my in-laws (8 children – and some are creating stress to this day)! On my side of the family (4 children) it may have been a factor for my own father.
And if a guy doesn’t have any kids does that mean he spends (or spent) more time cruising the bar scene (back before bans on smoking) leading to less sleep, poor nutrition (beer & pretzels are not a complete meal), and more stress looking for a suitable partner??? Who knows!
All I know is that having children has been a great adventure in my life (it continues to be) and I can’t imagine how my life would be without them. And I guess that it doesn’t hurt that they have paid me back by lowering my risk for CVD! 🙂 Thanks kids! That means I will be around longer to deal with your stress! Just kidding! 😉 The benefits in my case go far beyond the any negatives of parenting, fatherhood…just ask my ex! 🙂