Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Outcomes of a Father-Focused Childhood Obesity Prevention Program for Low-Income Families with Preschool-Age Children

Mar 2022 | Amy R. Mobley, Kim M. Gans, Kari Adamsons, and Tania B. Huedo-Medina


Background: Few childhood obesity prevention interventions have focused exclusively on fathers, particularly in low-income families. The objectives of this study were to determine feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a father-focused childhood obesity prevention program for low-income families with preschool children (ages 3–5 years old).

Methods: Father-child pairs (n = 45) enrolled in a community-based intervention in a Northeastern US state and were assigned within groups to intervention (n = 31) or a delayed comparison group (n = 14). The 8-week (2 h/week) program included nutrition, cooking, and parent education. Feasibility (enrollment, retention, and attendance) and acceptability (quality and value of program) of the program were assessed. Pre/Post measures included the Meals in our Household, Comprehensive Feeding Practices, Healthy Kids, and the Cooking Matters questionnaires. T-tests were conducted and Hedge's g was calculated to estimate effect sizes. Significance was set at p ≤ 0.10.

Results: Results indicated feasibility and acceptability of the program for intervention fathers, but recruitment and retention of comparison fathers proved challenging. Small to medium effect sizes were detected for improvements in fathers' feeding pressure (g = 0.48, p = 0.005), confidence in cooking skills (g = 0.25, p = 0.09), ability to cook healthy foods on a budget (g = 0.33, p = 0.10), and frequency that fathers cooked dinner (g = 0.15, p = 0.06). There was a large effect size detected in the increase of green salad consumption (g = 0.75, p = 0.01) by fathers and a small effect size for frequency of children eating vegetables (g = 0.13, p = 0.07).

Conclusions: While results are promising, further research should evaluate impact of a larger scale father-focused intervention on diet and obesity risk.

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