It's Time for Fathers to Take Charge

Childhood obesity is greatly influenced by the father

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Fathers should take a stand to eat healthier because researchers have found they have a great effect on childhood obesity.

In American culture, mothers are traditionally the ones who take care of the children and thus are thought to have the most impact on them. Researchers have found that fathers may play a more significant role – particularly when it comes to food.

"Fathers... lead by example, eat healthy."

Dr. Alex McIntosh, a sociologist from AgriLife Research, found that fathers are more likely to have an impact on childhood obesity than mothers. A 15-month study looked at the effects parents' choice of restaurants had on childhood obesity. Previous studies have shown that fast-food consumption leads to weight gain, so parents who chose fast-food may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The children who were involved in the study were asked to keep a detailed diary of the foods they ate, whether it was at home or out and who chose the meal – mother or father.

The diaries revealed the amount of time children spent in fast-food restaurants usually had to do with the dads. Fathers who were more lenient on food choices were more likely to dine at fast-food restaurants, which are directly related to childhood obesity.

These results - that fathers can impact childhood obesity - came as a surprise, according to McIntosh.

What this study showed, according to McIntosh, is that fathers – in addition to mothers – need more education about healthy food choices. Assuming this new role will help dads join in the fight against childhood obesity.

MacIntosh concludes, being good role models in healthy living can help end childhood obesity one family at a time.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 13, 2011
Last Updated:
June 14, 2011