‘Healthy Dads – Healthy Kids’ rolls off the tongue pretty easily. It almost replicates the saying, “He/she’s a chip off the old block”.
Researcher Jessica Ball released a research paper for the Public Health Agency of Canada, showing that ‘involved dads’ results in children following positive health outcomes such as the following:
- enhanced self confidence
- fewer accidental and premature deaths
- less substance abuse
- less distress
- greater wellbeing
- marital stability/happiness
- less hospital submissions.
Here in Australia an exciting study was pioneered by Professor Phillip Morgan, Co-Director of University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition and a Professor in the School of Education. Professor Morgan said obesity in men, and prevention of obesity in children, were international public health priorities. The following story from the Daily Telegraph provides an overview of the programme.
Dads have the power to influence the health and fitness of the whole family.
University of Newcastle academics found children copy their father’s diets and exercise regimes and have trialled a world-first study – Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids – funded by the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
The six-month study follows evidence that children mimic their fathers over their mothers when it comes to healthy eating and exercise.
Associate Professor Philip Morgan, who heads the new program, saw astounding results in a previous trial involving 165 overweight children.
He found children who lost the most weight had fathers who were engaged in the new eating and exercise plan.
“Mum can purchase and prepare the food but dads will often have less greens, or just meat and potato. The kids think ‘mum makes me eat this’ and she is painted as the bad guy,” Professor Morgan said.
“Fathers influence the food and physical activity habits in the home through their behaviours, attitudes and approach to food and eating, and act as a role model to their children.”
Professor Morgan said mothers, as primary care givers, were easier to inform but when fathers make changes the whole family becomes healthier.
“We have seen striking results,” he said. “These dads are still allowed to have a beer and enjoy things in moderation. It was subtle changes to their nutritional habits that made the difference. They see their lives change, they sleep better, and have much more fun together.”
Dad, Steve Tingey, said he hoped his two daughters Nikita, 2, and Caitlin, 4, would use him as a role model.
“I enjoy fatherhood very much; apart from my wife they are my two best friends. I hope they still use me as a guide as they grow up,” he said.
“We eat together, kick a soccer ball around together, play wrestle, tickle, and watch TV together. It’s no surprise that they take that in.”
Another news article shows the Canadian research is spot-on when it shows that having children helps dads become more healthy. The Herald Sun wrote:
Becoming a father has a positive effect on men’s health with 74 per cent of new dads saying the birth of a son or daughter motivated them to shape up to be there for their child’s future.
New fathers reported eating more healthily (35 per cent), exercising more (32 per cent), and cutting back on the booze (19 per cent) after the birth of their child.
Others said they had stopped partying and started a weight-loss campaign after bringing their child home.
Children reared by fathers who spent time with them and who were involved in their care and welfare were found to have greater language skills, higher academic achievements, higher self-esteem, lower depression and anxiety levels and less delinquent behaviour.
Dads – keep moving and eating those greens so you can live longer. If your children are a chip off the old block they will live longer too.
Yours for our children
PS: Can you help us help more dads to help their children?
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