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Prev Med. 2017 Jun 24;102:12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.06.027. [Epub ahead of print]

The influence of fathers on children's physical activity: A review of the literature from 2009 to 2015.

Author information

1
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States; Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States. Electronic address: cody@unc.edu.
2
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States.
3
Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States.
4
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA, United States.
5
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States; Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States.

Abstract

Parents are influential in promoting children's physical activity. Yet, most research has focused on how mothers influence children's activity, while little empirical attention has been devoted to understanding how fathers may influence children's activity. The purpose of this review was to summarize observational studies from 2009 to 2015 examining the influence of fathers on children's physical activity. A publicly available database, from a prior systematic review, containing information on 667 studies of parenting and childhood obesity from 2009 to 2015 was searched for potential studies. Studies were eligible if: 1) fathers were included as participants, 2) results were presented for fathers separate from mothers, 3) fathers' physical activity or physical activity parenting was assessed, and 4) child physical activity was measured. Ten studies met eligibility criteria. All studies were rated as fair quality. The majority of studies (n=8) assessed the relationship between father and child physical activity. Of 27 associations tested, 14 (52%) were significant, indicating a modest, positive relationship between father and child activity. Of the studies examining fathers' physical activity parenting (n=3), there were three significant associations out of 15 tested (20%) and no consistency among measured constructs. No differences were observed in the influence of mothers vs. fathers on children's physical activity. Limited evidence was available to examine moderating effects of child sex or age. Few studies have examined the effect of fathers on child physical activity and this relationship remains unclear. Future studies should target fathers for research and investigate specific pathways through which fathers can influence child activity.

KEYWORDS:

Child; Father; Parenting; Physical activity

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