Engaging Fathers to Improve Physical Activity and Nutrition in Themselves and in Their Preschool-Aged Children: The “Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads” Feasibility Trial

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Few lifestyle programs for young children have targeted fathers. This study examined the feasibility of a lifestyle intervention for fathers and their preschool-aged children. Method: A total of 24 father/preschool child dyads were recruited from Newcastle, Australia, into a single-arm, feasibility trial (baseline and 3-mo postbaseline assessments). The 9-session program aimed to improve physical activity and dietary habits of fathers and children. A priori feasibility benchmarks targeted recruitment (15 dyads), eligibility rate (>60%), attendance (80%), retention (≥85%), and program acceptability (≥4 out of 5). Acceptability of data collection procedures, research team program/resource management, home-program compliance, and preliminary intervention outcomes were also assessed. Results: Feasibility benchmarks were surpassed for recruitment (24 dyads), eligibility rate (61.5%), attendance (89%), retention (100%), and program acceptability (4.6 out of 5). Data collection procedures were acceptable. Challenges included mothers reporting their own dietary intake rather than their child’s, children moving during body composition measurement, and resetting pedometers. Resource and program management were excellent. Most families met home-program requirements (83%). Preliminary intervention outcomes were encouraging for fathers and children. Conclusion: Program feasibility was demonstrated by excellent recruitment, attendance, acceptability, retention, program administration, and promising preliminary intervention outcomes. A few data collection difficulties were identified. A larger scale efficacy trial is warranted.

Morgan, Collins, Barnes, Pollock, Kennedy, Drew, Saunders, Grounds, Rayward, and Young are affiliated with the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Morgan, Barnes, Pollock, Kennedy, Drew, Saunders, Grounds, and Rayward are also with the Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Education, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Collins is also with the Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Young is also with the Faculty of Science, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.

Morgan (philip.morgan@newcastle.edu.au) is corresponding author.

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