Dads’ healthy choices It’s tougher as kids age

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - MANDY SQUIRES

DADS are stick­lers for nu­tri­tion when their kids are first born but lose their re­solve by the time they turn three, new re­search shows.

Dads be­ing tired and stressed and try­ing to deal with fussy tod­dlers could be be­hind the nu­tri­tion lapse.

The study by Deakin’s In­sti­tute for Physical Ac­tiv­ity and Nu­tri­tion (IPAN) found many first-time fa­thers lost con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to de­liver a healthy diet as their child got older.

Lead re­searcher Adam Walsh said the find­ings fol­lowed ear­lier re­search which showed the eat­ing habits of chil­dren as young as 18 months were strongly in­flu­enced by their dads.

“I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that dads con­sider that they are always a role model from the word go,” he said.

“Up un­til rel­a­tively re­cently, dads have been left out of the equa­tion be­cause of tra­di­tional par­ent­ing roles, but now with more mums returning to work af­ter hav­ing chil­dren, we’re seeing a slow evo­lu­tion where dads might not be con­sid­ered the pri­mary carer but they are start­ing to con­trib­ute more and more.”

Luke Da­ley un­der­stands all too well why many fa­thers bat­tle to feed their chil­dren healthy foods as they grow.

A fa­ther of two girls, aged seven months and four-and-ahalf years, Mr Da­ley works as a nutri­tion­ist but even he has seen his com­mit­ment to de­liv­er­ing a healthy diet to his kids wane over time.

Mr Da­ley, 33, said fre­quent chil­dren’s par­ties, typ­i­cally catered for with sweet treats and junk food, also made it hard to maintain healthy di­ets for young kids as they grew.

Par­ents’ Voice spokes­woman Alice Py­ror said many first time dads wanted to be per­fect par­ents, but the real­ity of par­ent­ing proved much harder than they ex­pected.

“It comes as no sur­prise to me that par­ents have ide­alised notions of feed­ing their child,” she said. “Be­fore chil­dren ar­rive you have no con­cept of how lit­tle time you have to do ev­ery­day things, and the pres­sures that push you in the other di­rec­tion.”

Pic­ture:SARAH MATRAY

Mel­bourne dad Luke Da­ley, 33, knows all too well how much of a bat­tle if can be to keep kids' di­ets healthy as the years go by. He is dad to two girls, Rosie aged 7 months and Wil­low 4

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