Health Dads need to be play a greater role in preventing childhood obesity, says study

19:28  13 april  2018
19:28  13 april  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Study author Jess Haines says dads play an important role in helping their children develop healthy habits. Study says fathers should be more engaged in helping kids establish healthy behaviours to prevent childhood obesity .

 Study author Jess Haines says dads play an important role in helping their children develop healthy habits. Study says fathers should be more engaged in helping kids establish healthy behaviours to prevent childhood obesity .


Fathers play a key role in influencing their child’s diet, physical activity and screen time, yet they are rarely targeted in family-based efforts to prevent childhood obesity, according to a recent study that should serve as a “wake-up call.”

“This idea that mothers are the primary caretakers and gatekeepers is really antiquated,” says Jess Haines, an associate professor of applied nutrition at the University of Guelph and co-author of the study, called The Forgotten Parent, published February in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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written for parents FOREWORD This paper is written to address the need for parents to understand how much they play a role in their children ’s weight. These kids also are at a greater risk for emotional problems. Childhood obesity has gotten out of control over the past couple of years.

Dads need to play a greater role in preventing childhood obesity says study . The Guelph Family Health Study is testing new ways for kids to learn healthy habits early – habits that can significantly lower your child ’s risk for disease now and in the future.

“We really need to be — in our public health messaging, health policies, and our prenatal programs — thinking of making sure that we engage the whole family, rather than just the mother. It’s more inclusive and represents what family looks like today.”

Haines, along with colleagues from the University of Arizona and Harvard University, analyzed studies from around the world that looked at family-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity. Those are studies in which researchers help parents change behaviours within their family by doing things such as reducing screen time and improving diet, physical activity and sleep.

They looked at 85 studies, done between 2008 and 2015. In total there were about 14,900 parents recruited to participate — but it’s estimated that just around 900, or 6 per cent, were fathers. The analysis revealed that researchers tend to target mothers, and engage them, in family-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity. When fathers were included they tended to be dads of elementary-school aged children, but they were largely excluded from prenatal interventions or if they had infants.

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It is safe to say that childhood obesity is an issue that needs to be explored. However statistics have shown that genetics are playing a huge role in the increasing number of cases.

Technology plays a big role in childhood obesity in today’s society. Childhood obesity can be prevented . Studies show that children that are obese are at a higher risk of emotional problems that often carry over into adulthood.

“This is a wake-up call for us to figure out how to do this better,” says Haines, adding dads should be included because they play an important role in helping children establish healthy behaviours. “It’s not the dads’ fault. There just aren’t efforts to make sure we’re engaging them ... We anticipate that engaging fathers earlier in these interventions will result in improved outcomes for their kids.”

Family interventionsare more effective when they include both parents, says the study’s lead author, Kirsten Davison from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Study author Jess Haines says dads play an important role in helping their children develop healthy habits. © Provided by Toronto Star Study author Jess Haines says dads play an important role in helping their children develop healthy habits.

“If fathers are largely missing from childhood obesity interventions, we are compromising our ability to improve children’s weight outcomes.”

Pediatrician Dr. Tom Warshawski, who’s also chair of the Vancouver-based Childhood Obesity Foundation, says that just because fathers don’t participate in intervention programs and studies, doesn’t mean they’re not making important behaviour changes in the home.

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Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than thirty. Physical activity plays a very important role in child obesity . Let's say you decide that you want to talk about three things: a) What are the causes of childhood obesity .

Study shows how a healthy father- child relationship can be crucial in preventing the onset of obesity in young adults. Parents, especially fathers, play a vital role in developing healthy behaviours as well as help prevent obesity in young adults, say researchers.

“It’s difficult for both parents to make that time commitment over the length of a program,” says Warshawski, who wasn’t involved in the study. “But when both parents are participating in the changes that’s the most important thing.”

The key to success is having family buy-in, engagement and behaviour change, he says, noting “The whole food environment has to change.”

The study, comes at a time when childhood obesity rates are on the rise in Canada and around the world.

In the last three decades — as more and more junk food and processed food has entered the food system — obesity rates in children and youth have nearly tripled in Canada, with one in four being overweight or obese, according to national figures. This puts children at risk of developing a range of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type-2 diabetes, as well as emotional issues including depression.

Canada isn’t alone in facing an obesity epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, the number of overweight or obese children under age five, has jumped from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016. If the current trend continues, that figure is expected to hit 70 million by 2025.

But Warshawski says the trend is reversible, at an individual level. He recommends minimizing one’s intake of added sugars, refined flours and processed foods, eating more vegetables and whole grains, and cooking and eating at home.

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