This study examined potential parenting-related mediators of children’s physical activity and dietary behavior change in the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids (HDHK) community program.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 45 overweight/obese (mean [SD] age = 39.8 [5.4] years; BMI = 32.4 [3.8]) fathers and their children (n = 77; 58% boys; mean [SD] age = 7.7 [2.5] years). Families were randomized to either the HDHK program or wait-list control group. The program involved 7 sessions. Fathers and their children were assessed at baseline and at 14 weeks for physical activity (pedometery) and core food intake (Questionnaire). Fathers’ lifestyle-related parenting practices included; self-efficacy, beliefs, modeling, logistic support, rules, cophysical activity, shared mealtime frequency and intentions.
Significant intervention effects were found for cophysical activity and modeling physical activity. Cophysical activity mediated children’s physical activity in the intervention (‘mediated effect,’ AB = 653, 95% CI = 4–2050) and was responsible for 59.5% of the intervention effect. Fathers’ beliefs mediated children’s percent energy from core foods (AB = 1.51, 95% CI = 0.05–5.55) and accounted for 72.9% of the intervention effect.
Participation in the HDHK program positively impacted on fathers’ cophysical activity with their child and beliefs about healthy eating which mediated changes in children’s diet and physical activity behaviors.