Lenient Fathers Are More Likely to Influence Childhood Obesity

By: Texas A&M
By: Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas-Lenient fathers are more likely than mothers to influence childhood obesity because they allow their kids to eat at fast-food restaurants frequently, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

"Dads who think that dinner time is a special family time certainly do not see a fast-food restaurant as an appropriate place for that special family time, so this means that his kids are spending less time in those places. Dads who have no trouble eating food in a fast-food restaurant are going to be more likely to have kids who do so," said Dr. Alex McIntosh, AgriLife Research sociologist.

Researchers at Texas A&M University conducted a 15-month study to examine parents' use of time and how that impacted meal choices and the choice between fast-food and full-service restaurants. The researchers also asked children in these families to keep a record of what they ate and whether it was at home or out.

"To our surprise, it was father's time spent at fast-food restaurants-not
mother's time spent there-that was associated with kids' time spent in a fast-food place." McIntosh said, noting fathers also need to know more about nutritional content of fast food in order to raise healthy, well-adjusted children.

They also found mothers who are neglectful and those who are highly
committed to their work were more likely to allow their kids to eat at
fast-food restaurants.

The current study seems to affirm one that appeared in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which noted parents need to be better empowered to be good role models and help their
children eat healthy diets.

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