Fathers are being encouraged to join a community-driven program that will help them, and their families, lose weight without having to give up all of life's luxuries.
The Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program is based on University of Newcastle research that shows the eating habits and physical activity patterns of fathers and father-figures influence the way their families approach their health.
Program Manager Dr Drew Miller said Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids was not about dieting, instead it gave fathers the knowledge and encouragement to change their lifestyle.
"Men don't have to eat like a rabbit and give up the occasional beer to be successful in losing weight and improving their physical fitness," Dr Miller said.
"Through fun and engaging activities, the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program shows men how they can be a 'healthy dad' by understanding the benefits of healthy eating and an active lifestyle for them and their children."
The program is held over seven sessions with four sessions devoted to weight loss and healthy eating and three physical activity sessions that bring the fathers together with their children to help motivate the family to have fun with physical activity.
Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids has been successfully undertaken in the Newcastle area with more than 100 families taking part in the program. This year the program is rolling out to Maitland starting on Tuesday 24 May, Singleton and Muswellbrook in Term 3 and Cessnock in Term 4 of 2011.
Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment, Steve Sneddon, said the company was proud to assist in bringing the program to the Upper Hunter through its Community Development Fund, which was contributing almost $525,000 to the program over three years.
"This program has been globally recognised as the best research in public health and policy, and we are very proud that families in the Upper Hunter and Newcastle get to be the first to use it anywhere in the world," Mr Sneddon said.
"Our Community Development Fund was set up to support local projects that contribute to the long term sustainability of the communities where we operate."
A recent evaluation of Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids published in the International Journal of Obesity revealed the success of the program. The study looked at participants three and six months after completing the program and found it had reduced weight, lowered blood pressure and boosted the physical activity of participants. The study also found that the eating habits of participants‟ children improved and the kids were much more active than they had been before taking part in the program.
Researchers are currently looking for fathers living in the Maitland area who have a child aged between five and 12 and are aged between 21 and 60. Their weight, physical activity and diet will be monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids is a partnership between Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute, the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community.
Families in the Upper Hunter interested in participating can contact Program Manager Dr Drew Miller on 02 4921 6721 or email Andrew.Miller@newcastle.edu.au or visit www.healthydadshealthykids.com.au
Participants in the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program are available to discuss their experiences. Contact: Dr Drew Miller on 02 4921 6721, Dr Philip Morgan on 0402 445 988.