Fathers and men model positive health and nutrition behaviors
Parenting education and health and nutrition programs often focus on mothers and women. For families to function well, all parents and caregivers need skills and tools, regardless of gender. The University of Minnesota’s Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) developed programs tailored to men and fathers, including those from diverse cultural backgrounds and who speak multiple languages.
One in-person program focused on outdoor physical activity skills and eating healthy foods. Another project, Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy Youth Behaviors (AFRI Padres Informados), aimed to prevent obesity among urban and rural Latino adolescents by engaging families, especially fathers or other male caregivers and middle-school children, in an eight-week culturally and linguistically appropriate prevention program. Positive parenting practices included providing a supportive environment for healthy eating and physical activity, setting expectations and role modeling. Other behaviors included fruit and vegetable consumption, participating in family meals and engaging in physical activity.
The Padres program showed reductions in fathers’ intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, salty snacks and fast food. Adolescents had improvements in weight status outcomes. Attending at least seven of eight sessions lowered father unhealthy food intakes and adolescent sweets and salty snack intakes. Lower adolescent body mass index occurred through participation of both parents and in all sessions. Fathers reported they became role models for eating more fruit. Youths reported that their fathers communicated screen-time expectations.
The men and fathers looked forward to weekly gatherings and submitted outcomes through photos. These photos showed fathers grocery shopping for and preparing healthy foods with their children and spending time together outdoors through physical activity. Photographic evidence demonstrated close relationships that help buffer the stressful times for youths and parents, especially those in BIPOC and low-income families.
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/5923