The role of fathers in child feeding : perceived responsibility and predictors of participation

Mallan, Kimberley M., Nothard, Michaela, Thorpe, Karen J., Nicholson, Jan, Wilson, Andrew, Scuffham, Paul, & Daniels, Lynne (2013) The role of fathers in child feeding : perceived responsibility and predictors of participation. Child : Care, Health and Development, 40(5), pp. 715-722.

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The role of fathers in shaping their child’s eating behaviour and weight status through their involvement in child feeding has rarely been studied. This study aims to describe the fathers’ perceived responsibility for child feeding, and to identify predictors of how frequently fathers eat meals with their child.


Four hundred and thirty-six Australian fathers (M age=37 years, SD=6 years; 34% university educated) of a 2-5 year old child (M age=3.5 years, SD=0.9 years; 53% boys) were recruited via contact with mothers enrolled in existing research projects or a University staff and student email list. Data were collected from fathers via a self-report questionnaire. Descriptive and hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted.


The majority of fathers reported that the family often/mostly ate meals together (79%). Many fathers perceived that they were responsible at least half of the time for feeding their child in terms of organizing meals (42%); amount offered (50%) and deciding if their child eats the ‘right kind of foods’ (60%). Time spent in paid employment was inversely associated with how frequently fathers ate meals with their child (β=-0.23, p<0.001); however, both higher perceived responsibility for child feeding (β=-0.16, p<0.004) and a more involved and positive attitude toward their role as a father (β=0.20, p<0.001) were positively related to how often they ate meals with their child, adjusting for a range of paternal and child covariates, including time spent in paid employment.


Fathers from a broad range of educational backgrounds appear willing to participate in research studies on child feeding. Most fathers were engaged and involved in family meals and child feeding. This suggests that fathers, like mothers, should be viewed as potential agents for the implementation of positive feeding practices within the family.

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7 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 63716
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: fathers, child feeding, childhood obesity
DOI: 10.1111/cch.12088
ISSN: 1365-2214
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified (111199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Developmental Psychology and Ageing (170102)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2013 22:35
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2015 20:44

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