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Lower income dads active in their kids' health
Date:10/13/2011

eed to help them achieve that by showing them good behaviors to model for their children."

Children from lower income homes are at high risk for such health problems as diabetes and obesity, he added, and a number of fathers in the study attempted to protect their children from these problems.

The fathers are more involved in their kids' health and health care than researchers expected.

"There's a bias to assume lower income dads, particularly in unmarried families, are not involved with their children," Garfield said. "But that's not the case. Recent research has shown the vast majority of dads will attend the birth of their kids whether or not the men are married to the mother. Our research goes further to say they really are involved day to day with their kids in ways that affect their health and development."

The number of stay-at-home fathers in the United States has nearly doubled to 158,000 from 2003 to 2009, and the number of single fathers raising children has grown from 400,000 in 1970 to 1.7 million in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Census.

The study focused on 31 primarily African American and Hispanic fathers from Chicago and Milwaukee who were an average of 31 years old. The men were a subsample of the national Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. Of the sample, 56 percent self-identified as African American, 28 percent Hispanic and 15 percent white; 55 percent were single and 41 percent had an income of $34,999 or less.

More than half the fathers reported modeling exercise behaviors and engaging their children in play as ways to promote their child's health, the study reports. The fathers said they knew their behavior influences their children's habits, and they often tried to set a good example.

"I do more vegetables, I eat better, I drink more milk now at the dinner table," said one father from Milwaukee. "I don't drink as much beer now because, unfortunately, monkey se
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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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