Groundbreaking Healthy Dads Project To Expand In 2019

A world-first program for fathers of pre-school-aged children is helping dads and their kids to enjoy healthier lifestyles.

The program, initiated by the University of Newcastle, focuses on rough and tumble play, healthy eating, active play and sport skills.

Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads was started by Professor Phil Morgan with the goal of teaching dads evidence-based parenting strategies to optimise their child’s physical and mental development.

The program, which was piloted in the Hunter Region of NSW with 25 dads last year, will expand to work with 150 dads in 2019.

“Preliminary data from the pilot program showed promising results, indicating that both youngsters and dads significantly improved their physical activity and overall diet quality. Notably, the youngsters also improved their emotional wellbeing, while the dads enhanced their parenting practices,” Professor Morgan said.

“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.”

The program runs over eight weeks, with a mix of educational and practical sessions. One father in the pilot program got involved to spend more time with his daughter and be a healthy role model.

“I’d strongly encourage other families to take part in the program,” said Nathan Vincent.

“Charlotte looked forward to it every week and we learnt a lot. She developed excellent sports skills, learnt how to make healthy eating fun and now she eats yellow capsicum! Most importantly, we had a lot of fun."

The Healthy Youngsters, Heathy Dads program builds on the success of a range of
father-focused healthy lifestyle programs run by Professor Morgan’s team, including Dads And Daughters Exercising and Empowered (DADEE) and Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids (HDHK)

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