Australian researchers attempted to identify behavioral mediators of weight loss among fathers who took part in the 'Healthy Dad Healthy Kid' study and to assess the efficacy of an interventional program targeting obese men and children.
Obesity is a universal problem, but it seems to affect more men than women, because the former are more reluctant to seek advice, or enroll in clinical trials, for weight-related issues. As a result there have been very limited attempts at developing and analyzing interventional programs for weight loss that target men.
Parental obesity is one of the prime reasons for obesity in several children, however most interventional programs only target mothers and there are hardly any programs that assess the contribution of father's to childhood obesity.
A recent study did, however, highlighted the fact that children from overweight or obese fathers stood a higher chance of being obese themselves.
The 'Healthy Dads Healthy Kids' (HDHK) pilot study roped in 53 obese fathers and their children for a randomized controlled study.
The basis of the HDHK program was Bandura's social cognitive theory (SCT) and family systems theory (FST). It included eight weekly sessions of 75 minutes each. Five sessions involved dad's alone while three involved both dad and children.
Dads involved in the program were provided with information on weight loss and behavioral change, and about the need to spend quality time with their children. They were encouraged to be ideal role models, for their progenies to develop healthy habits.
The program was gender -sensitized in that it was designed to appeal to men's taste. For example the focus was more on nutrition and the mathematics involved in weight loss as opposed to following a strict diet regime. Also, some items, such as alcohol, were permitted as "sometimes food."
Physical activity (PA) was evaluated using pedometers and dietary habits were assessed through questionnaires.
At the end of six months the dads in the study and their children had lost weight considerably through the intervention. Physical activity acted as the most important weight- loss mediator while dietary behaviors were not statistically significant.
Encouraging obese or over weight fathers to be more physically active with their children was a very promising strategy for weight loss. The HDHK program helped in increasing physical activity among children and it helped to reinstate that parental modeling played a significant role in shaping child behavior.
Reference- International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity (2012) 9:45 David R. Lubans et al.
Source - Medindia