Dads at the dinner table: A cross-sectional study of Australian fathers' child feeding perceptions and practices
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Maternal perceptions and practices regarding child feeding have been extensively studied in the context of childhood overweight and obesity. To date, there is scant evidence on the role of fathers in child feeding. This cross-sectional study aimed to identify whether characteristics of fathers and their concerns about their children's risk of overweight were associated with child feeding perceptions and practices. Questionnaires were used to collect data from 436 Australian fathers (mean age = 37 years, SD = 6) of a child (53% boys) aged between 2 and 5 years (M = 3.5 years, SD = 0.9). These data included a range of demographic variables and selected subscales from the Child Feeding Questionnaire on concern about child weight, perceived responsibility for child feeding and controlling practices (pressure to eat and restriction). Multivariable linear regression was used to examine associations between demographic variables and fathers' feeding perceptions and practices. Results indicated that fathers' who were more concerned about their child becoming overweight reported higher perceived responsibility for child feeding and were more controlling of what and how much their child eats. Greater time commitment to paid work, possessing a health care card (indicative of socioeconomic disadvantage) and younger child age were associated with fathers' perceiving less responsibility for feeding. Factors such as paternal BMI and education level, as well as child gender were not associated with feeding perceptions or practices. This study contributes to the extant literature on fathers' role in child feeding, revealing several implications for research and interventions in the child feeding field.
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