Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences
The purpose of this pilot study was to determine feasibility of recruitment and retention of low-income fathers of preschool aged children in a childhood obesity prevention program (Healthy Fathers, Healthy Kids), based on process evaluation data, to improve paternal food-related parenting practices, mealtime behaviors and father and child nutrition and physical activity behaviors.
Father and child dyads (n=45) were enrolled in an 8 session (2 hours/session) community-based intervention including nutrition and parent education with between-session technology enhancements. Dyads were assigned within groups to intervention (n=31) or a delayed comparison group (n=14). Assessments were conducted at pre and post including a subset of data from cohabiting mothers (n=27) to assess moderating influences on outcomes.
Results : Of the fathers in the intervention group, 87% (27 out of 31) were retained in the program and of those remaining, 93% (25 out of 27) attended at least one session and 63% (17 out of 27) attended the majority of sessions (at least four sessions). The majority of fathers (81%) (22 out of 27) completed at least one post-program assessment. None of the fathers in the comparison group participated in the program intervention because of the 6-8 week planned delay. Retaining fathers in the delayed comparison group for intervention delivery, conducting 24 hour dietary recalls, and implementation of technology enhancements during the program for intervention fathers proved difficult.
Conclusions : While fathers remain an underserved audience in childhood obesity prevention outreach efforts, some challenges persist in recruiting and retention. A community champion proved to be an invaluable resource. Additional suggestions for recruitment and retention will be discussed. Further research should explore the impact of father-focused programming on parent and child outcomes and determine best practices in using technology enhancements with fathers in a community setting.
Funding Sources : National Institute of Child Health and Human Development