The University of Newcastle is calling for 150 men who are fathers to children aged between 3-5 years to participate in a healthy lifestyle program.
Following a successful pilot launch in 2017 of Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads, in which five fathers took part, the university is now opening the books to a further 150 fathers.
Led by Professor Phil Morgan from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, the program teaches fathers evidence-based parenting strategies to improve family eating and physical activity behaviours in order to optimise their child’s physical and mental development.
“Preliminary data from the pilot program showed promising results, indicating that both youngsters and dads significantly improved their physical activity and overall diet quality,” Professor Morgan said.
“Notably, the youngsters also improved their emotional well-being, while the dads enhanced their parenting practices.”
“This next stage will test the program in a more rigorous research trial which will involve a much larger number of families throughout next year.
“We really encourage families to get involved because the early childhood stage of life is a critical period when many behaviours are established and the impact of evidence-based parenting can benefit children not only physically, but also in social-emotional domains.”
Over an eight-week period, beginning in January, fathers and their children will take part in educational and practical sessions on Saturday mornings that focus on nutrition and rough and tumble play, fundamental movement skills and fun fitness challenges.
Pilot participant Nathan Vincent said he joined the program to spend more time with his daughter and to be a good role model in order to provide her with the foundations to live a healthy life.
“I’d strongly encourage other families to take part in the program.
“Charlotte looked forward to it every week and we learnt a lot,” Mr Vincent said.
Families can register their interest for the 2019 program at healthyyoungsters.com