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The effect of an early childhood obesity intervention on father’s obesity risk behaviors: the Melbourne InFANT Program

Adam D Walsh*, Sandrine Lioret, Adrian J Cameron, Kylie D Hesketh, Sarah A McNaughton, David Crawford and Karen J Campbell

Author Affiliations

Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:18  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-18

Published: 14 February 2014

Abstract

Background

To investigate the effect of an early childhood obesity prevention intervention, incorporating a parent modelling component, on fathers’ obesity risk-related behaviours.

Methods

Cluster randomized-controlled trial in the setting of pre-existing first-time parents groups organised by Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Victoria, Australia. Participants were 460 first-time fathers mean age = 34.2 (s.d.4.90) years. Dietary pattern scores of fathers were derived using principal component analysis, total physical activity and total television viewing time were assessed at baseline (infant aged three to four months) and after 15 months.

Results

No significant beneficial intervention effect was observed on fathers’ dietary pattern scores, total physical activity or total television viewing time.

Conclusion

Despite a strong focus on parent modelling (targeting parents own diet, physical activity and television viewing behaviours), and beneficial impact on mothers’ obesity risk behaviours, this intervention, with mothers as the point of contact, had no effect on fathers’ obesity risk-related behaviours. Based on the established links between children’s obesity risk-related behaviors and that of their fathers, a need exists for research testing the effectiveness of interventions with a stronger engagement of fathers.

Keywords:
Fathers; Dietary patterns; Physical activity; Sedentary behaviour; Childhood