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Dads More Influential Than Moms in Child Obesity

Dads influence on health eating and child obesity

Dads make a big difference in healthy eating

Who makes the mealtime decisions in your house? According to new research, moms are on average more strict about food, while dads tend to be the more influential wild card. Whether they take food seriously, or throw in for Big Macs and other fun time treats, is what sets the nutritional tone in the house.

A study in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior tells us that dads play a bigger role than moms when it comes to how often their kids eat at fast food restaurants — which is then linked to more weight gain in those children.

Good time dad, bad time mom? Do we really have that paradigm when it comes to the family table — with mom laying down the nutritional law and dad sneaking off to treat the kids to fries? 

The study, which followed children for 15 months and asked the families to keep a diary of their eating habits, found that how often a kid ate at a fast food joint was significantly more tied to whether dad spent time in fast food restaurants, not mom. And on the flip side, non-lenient dads played a bigger role in their child avoiding fats.

Overall, moms were more strict about avoiding fast food. Strangely, the researchers noted that the only time mom was more lax about fast food was when she was a “neglectful mom” or “highly committed to work” (separate factors).  I can’t really comment on what that would mean, except to think that full time work might make fast food more tempting for some families.

The message from researchers is that we usually tend to blame mom for our kids’ health habits, but dads are a big influence when it comes to food, and they need to take responsibility for their child’s nutrition.

Do you think dads take nutrition lightly or think of meals with the kids as special treats, when it’s okay to throw caution to the wind?

Image: flickr

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