Community Programs May Help Dads Lose Weight

By Shereen Jegtvig

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Men who participated in a community fitness program for obese fathers lost weight and increased their activity levels in a new study from Australia.

The researchers’ main goal was to test the ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ program in a real-world setting to see if it helped reduce obesity among the men participating – with the hope it would improve the eating habits and activity levels of their children too.

“Internationally, obesity in men and obesity prevention in children are public health priorities,” Philip Morgan, who led the study, told Reuters Health in an email.

Morgan is a researcher with the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, New South Wales.

“Fathers have a unique and important role in the lifestyle behaviours of their children, yet little is known about how best to engage them in lifestyle interventions,” Morgan said.

Morgan said that Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids is unique as it engages dads to become family role models and spend quality time with their children using exercise and healthy eating as the engagement medium.

“Children become ‘personal trainers’ for their dads – innovatively applying ‘reciprocal reinforcement’ theory. This program engages men, a hard-to-reach group, and children simultaneously -a more cost-effective approach than separate programs,” Morgan said.

For the new study, Morgan and colleagues enrolled 116 overweight and obese fathers along with their elementary school aged children in 2010 to 2011. A total of 93 men – and their children – completed the study.

The participants were divided into two groups. The members of one group participated in the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program and other others were put on a waiting list, which was used as a comparison group. (After the study was over, those men got to do the program).

The researchers took baseline measurements of all the participants during the two weeks before the program began. They measured the height, weight, blood pressure and heart rate of each man and asked about his daily physical activity and eating habits.

The Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program included seven weeks of group sessions – four for just the fathers and three with both fathers and kids – taught by physical education teachers who had been specially trained.

The fathers were taught about weight loss, healthy eating, how to get their kids more active, and how to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

The participants were also given manuals and logbooks to take home to keep track of their progress.

The fathers and kids in the group on the waiting list were not given any health or fitness information during the study.

Physical measurements and assessments were repeated 14 weeks after the program began.

The researchers found that fathers who completed the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program lost, on average, about 7.5 pounds, compared to the fathers on the waiting list who stayed about the same. The fathers on the program also increased their physical activity levels, cut their daily calorie intakes and reduced their resting heart rates compared to the wait-list group.

“Significant intervention effects were found for fathers’ weight, BMI, waist circumference, resting heart rate, physical activity levels, and dietary intake. For children, intervention effects were found for adiposity and physical activity,” Morgan said.

“Clearly the role of the parent in our children’s health is of paramount importance,” Jacob Barkley, an associate professor of exercise science at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, told Reuters Health in an email.

“These results demonstrate how a father may not just benefit themselves by changing their health behaviors, but they may have a measurable benefit to their children as well,” said Barkley, who was not involved in the study.

Barkley said the fact that the study was done in a community setting – not in a laboratory – improved the ability to generalize the results to the real world.

A program like this is something that could be implemented fairly easily in a variety of countries, including the United States, he said.

“The evidence strongly suggest that if you are a father, and are concerned with the your child’s weight and physical activity habits, you may want to change your own behavior. It could benefit you and your kids,” Barkley said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1hmzatZ Preventive Medicine, online December 29, 2013.

Original Story Here


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  1. Reply

    How To Lose Weight And Live A Healthier Lifestyle? I need to lose 40 pounds, and would like to live a healthier lifestyle as well. And just never seem to find the right foods, any tips and or list of grocery items i should be getti ng. Ive eliminated all sodas sugar drinks and only drink water or crystal light. I just need more tips. How long should i be working out at day. Ive recently gotten a planet fitness mermbership

    1. Reply

      Many people make themselves suffer emotionally, physically and even socially when it comes to losing weight. The result of their efforts is frequently weight gain rather than weight loss. To help understand common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight and how someone can lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, I have interviewed psychotherapist Abigail Natenshon.

      Tell me a little bit about yourself.
      “I am a psychotherapist who has, for the past 40 years, specialized in treating eating disordered patients and their families. As the author of When your Child has an Eating Disorder: a Step-by-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers (Jossey Bass Publishers 1999) and Doing What Works: an Integrative System for the Treatment of Eating Disorders from Diagnosis to Recovery (NASW Press, 2009) I am also the founder and director of Eating Disorder Specialists of Illinois: A Clinic Without Walls.”

      “In addition, I am a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and I have enjoyed pioneering in using this mind/body technique to help heal eating disorders and body image disturbances. I host three informative web sites for patients and parents (www.empoweredparents.com), for health professionals (www.treatingeatingdisorders.com), and for children and teens (www.empoweredkidZ.com).”

  2. Reply

    Why Is A Healthy Lifestyle Important In School? I need some ideas about Why a healthy lifestyle is important in school. I have to have an answer in less than 1000 words. Applying for college scholarship. Thanks in advance!

    1. Reply

      You need a healthy lifestyle in school to concentrate on your studies. You need to be able to focus for one thing. You also need to plenty of rest, and a good diet.

  3. Reply

    How Can I Keep Up My Healthy Lifestyle Over Easter? I have been trying to keep a healthy lifestyle, build fitness and lose a little fat. But I am surrounded by Easter treats, mum has been baking loads, have Easter eggs from family and my bf wants to get me an Easter egg too. Don’t get me wrong, I love how sweet everyone is being, but all of this will just make me I’ll. What should I do?

    1. Reply

      If you’d like me to be honest, I think that the healthiest lifestyles include enjoying things. So every now and then, let go of the fact that “something will make me fat” and enjoy it. I think that often as people we give up a large part of living just to stay skinny. I used to be that way, and as much as I told myself it was worth it, it really wasn’t. Enjoy it, and don’t go on a guilt trip over it.

      That being said, there are several things you can do to avoid extra treats. Stay away from the kitchen as much as possible, as well as where things are being served. When you get things, get just a small bit. I’ve noticed that with a lot of sweetbreads and cakes and such, a very thin slice takes just as long to eat as a thick one and is usually just as satisfying. If not, you can even get a second (which, sliced thinly enough, is still smaller than the thick slices would be). Another trick I’ve learned is “sharing”–if it is a roll or whatever, just eat half of it and “share” the other half with someone else (maybe someone else who either just wants half, or someone who wants more than one).

      Enjoy Easter!

  4. Reply

    How The Computer Is Supporting Us In Our Healthy Lifestyle? How do computer helps people in their healthy lifestyle? How can The computer help people? Is it from websites? advertisements? I need it really badly. How can the computer is supporting to improve our healthy lifestyle. in what ways? How can computer promote the quality of healthy lifestyle. How can computer convince people to stop unnecessary things like drugs or alcohol? How can computer HELP us?
    AT least 6-8 points would do. thank you.

    1. Reply

      The computer is not a healthy lifestyle for people. It programs us to thinking we can find everything on here. Jobs, pay bills, shop, everything! We can do that ourselves and it seems technology is taking the chores away from us, that can be easily done by human themself. The computer can help us though when we need to find information, imformation fast. Websites help us retain information, advertisements are just like commericals there just trying to sell or maniupulate us to buy whatever their advertising. The computer is not improving our healthy lifestyle. Peoples eyes can go out of sight and hurt very badly(like mine and i’m only 15 years old.) from years and years staring at the computer. The worst thing to stare at is a computer screen — I don’t know why I still do it for hours at end, but I do. The computer will never promote the quality of healthy lifestyle, its just not possible. The computer can convince people to stop drugs and alcohol but if you think about it would you rather have an obsession over the computer for hours at the day, you have to be near the computer you have to be on it then doing drugs or alcohol? The computer is just as bad addiction as alcohol and drugs. The computer cannot HELP us other then give us fast information when we need it. The computer although has so much information and so many untrusted sites you never know if what your reading is a lie. And I hope I get 10 points because I just wasted my time answering this long question, I hope you weren’t just asking this for the heck of this — I hope it was for some essay lol.

      Take care bye

  5. Reply

    How Can I Live A More Healthier Lifestyle? Hi everyone I am a 18 year old girl who is about to start college in a few weeks. Basically I want to start living a healthier lifestyle, because I want to have more energy than I do now since I am going to have a busy schedule this semester. Do you know of any exercises that I can do at home that could keep me in shape. Also how can I change my eating habits, as of now I just eat whatever I want. I’m 5’0 and weigh 148lbs which is about 30lbs overweight for my height I think.

    1. Reply

      A healthier lifestyle is largely composed of your diet. If you want to lose weight, you will have to create what’s called a caloric deficit- eating less calories than you’re burning each day, without eating too little which could cause you to store fat instead. Some examples of a healthier diet might be have eggs/toast or a lettuce sandwich or oatmeal for breakfast, with snacks in the day being things such as almonds (nuts in general) , fruits, vegetables etc. For dinner, whole-grains pastas, lean chicken, salad, etc are all good choices. Eat healthy, but switch it up too! For an exercise plan I would recommend following a specific routine like The 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. And just try to add more movement in your life as well- every little bit helps!

      Good luck, I hope you enjoy college!

  6. Reply

    What Can Anyone Do To Promote A Healthy Lifestyle? What can institutions such as schools do and what can individuals do?
    What can the government put in place?
    What is the reason for the fact not a lot of people care about having a healthy lifestyle anymore?

    1. Reply

      Schools can replace all or most of the canteen food with healthy options so they could replace chicken burger with tuna salad for example. Individuals can aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. The government can put a higher price up on junk food, therefore tempting more people to buy healthy food as it would become cheaper than it is now.

      The reason why people don’t care about a healthy lifestyle, is that junk food like burger and chips is quick and a convenience, as healthy meals takes time to prepare. Same with exercise maybe being time consuming and they have a busy schedule to be able to fit it all in.

  7. Reply

    How Do You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle? Please comment on your suggestions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, add any concerns or issues you have concerning you’re healt, and i’ll be happy to educate you further.

    1. Reply

      I eat healthy – vegetables, fruit, lots of water, minimal sugar consumption, etc.
      I don’t smoke.
      I don’t drink in excess.
      I don’t do drugs.
      I exercise at least twice a week.
      I try to get enough sleep every night (minimum of 7 hours).

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