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Appetite. 2014 Jul;78:110-21. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.03.015. Epub 2014 Mar 22.

Fathers' child feeding practices: a review of the evidence.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:


Despite their expanding role in child rearing, fathers are underrepresented in child feeding research. To address this knowledge gap and encourage father-focused research, this review compiles child feeding research that has included fathers and (i) documents characteristics of studies assessing fathers' feeding practices including study design, setting, recruitment strategies, participant characteristics, theoretical models utilized and measures of child feeding, (ii) outlines general patterns in fathers' feeding practices along with similarities and differences in mothers' and fathers' feeding practices, (iii) summarizes evidence on child and parent correlates of fathers' feeding practices and (iv) generates future research recommendations. A literature review of relevant articles published up to February 2014 was conducted. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they: (i) included fathers, or primary male caregivers, of children 2-18 years of age, (ii) measured fathers' child feeding practices or perceived role in child feeding through objective (e.g., meal observations) or subjective (i.e., fathers' self-report) methods, (iii) analyzed and presented data on fathers separately from mothers and (iv) were published in a peer reviewed journal in the English language. Twenty studies met eligibility criteria. Few studies included an operational definition of "father". Samples were generally small and focused on white, well-educated fathers, cohabiting with the child's mother. Most studies utilized self-report measures of child feeding practices that have not been validated specifically for use with fathers. Pressuring children to eat was a common feeding strategy adopted by fathers. Some differences were noted in mothers' and fathers' feeding practices; fathers were generally less likely to monitor children's food intake and to limit access to food compared with mothers. Child adiposity and a range of child and parent characteristics were associated with fathers' feeding practices. The literature on fathers' child feeding practices is scant. This review consolidates what is known to date and highlights focal areas for future research including the need to recruit diverse samples of fathers and utilize measures validated for use with fathers.


Child feeding practices; Childhood obesity; Fathers; Paternal; Review

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