It’s not just love, good manners and hockey skills that Canadian dads are bestowing on their children. It’s also their eating habits.
A new Canadian study, published in the June issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, tracked 31 two-parent families (31 mothers, 31 fathers and 40 kids of preschool age) and found that children are more likely to pick up their father’s eating habits than their mother’s. So if Dad is opting for fries over a salad, chances are, his offspring will do the same.
Previous research also highlights the issue of fathers’ diet choices impacting their children. A 2011 study out of the University of Newcastle in Australia found that eight to nine year olds with an obese father were 10 times more likely to become obese than children whose parents were not obese — and in families with an obese mother, these stats just weren’t the same.
“It’s important for men to take a leadership role in their health and in that of their children. This research suggests if a dad eats poorly, his children have a higher risk of having poor nutrition and weight issues, so we want men to understand that being a good dad also means being a healthy dad,” says Wayne Hartrick, president of the Men’s Health Foundation.
As to why fathers’ behaviours are so noticed and replicated by children, the new study offers the possible explanation of fathers being “more expressive and enthusiastic when demonstrating modelling practices,” adding that more research is required to confirm or disprove this.
With obesity rates on the rise in Canada, it’s clear our dads need to start making healthier choices, not just for their own waistlines, but for those of their kids, too. According to Statistics Canada, 65 per cent of Canadian men are overweight or obese. That’s more than 50 per cent higher than the worldwide average of 39 per cent!
So choose your dinner order wisely, dads. Your kids are watching.