Dads Making a Difference in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Dads Making a Difference in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

    It is always useful when Mom and Dad are on the same page, and in regard to the health of their children, Mom and Dad are sharing the same page.

    Sixty-six percent of mothers and sixty-four percent of fathers feel that childhood obesity in the United States is a problem, and thirty-four percent of fathers and thirty percent of mothers think their children would benefit if they lost weight. Thirty-four percent of parents also stated that they had concerns about their children’s eating habits.

    So the good news is that parents agree that childhood obesity is a problem.

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    The Influence of Mothers and Fathers on Food Choice
    Traditionally, it is the mother who is responsible for managing the health of the children as well as the healthcare of the family. In addition, mothers usually handle the grocery shopping and prepare the family meals, but additional responsibilities or working full-time creates an agenda that many mothers struggle through. Because of the weight of these demands, twenty percent of mothers report that they could do a better job of providing healthy food choices.

    This does not mean that Dad is not influential when it comes down to food choice. Whether good or bad, a father’s decision about food has a more lasting effect on children than does a mother's.

    Men also believe moreso than women that communication with the family doctor would be helpful in addressing their child’s weight. Fifty-eight percent of men stated they would be interested in receiving communications from the family doctor compared to forty-eight percent of mothers.

    Unfortunately, both parents are equally guilty in giving their kids fast food. Twenty-two percent of fathers and twenty-one percent of mothers give their children fast food twice a week. Interestingly enough, when mothers provide fast food it is seen as due to a hectic schedule. When fathers provide fast food it is seen as a treat.

    Nonresidential Fathers
    Father’s are important in influencing the eating habits of their children as well as their weight and potential for obesity. As was stated in a prior post, “A Father’s Influence in the Battle Against Obesity“, children who live in traditional two-parent married household have the lowest risk for obesity.
    Sadly, non-residential Dad’s do not grade well. It has been suspected that because nonresidential fathers have limited time with their children that they wish to decrease conflict and spend pleasurable time with their kids. Therefore, these fathers often take their children on fast food outings and indulge them with soda and snacks. There is some research to support this.

    One study have showed that three to nine-year-old children who have nonresidential fathers have an obesity rate of 23%. It was also noted that the more time these Dads spend with their children, the greater the probability that the children will become obese. Ten extra days of contact per month with the father translated into a 19% increase in obesity for the child.  

  • Another study focused on nonresidential fathers and the obesity rate for their adolescent children. This study also found that the greater amount of time nonresidential fathers spent with their adolescent children the greater the risk for obesity among those children but only if the fathers were less educated.  

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Published On: April 21, 2014