Skip to main content Accessibility help

Associations between dietary intakes of first-time fathers and their 20-month-old children are moderated by fathers’ BMI, education and age

  • Adam D. Walsh (a1), Adrian J. Cameron (a2) (a3), Kylie D. Hesketh (a1), David Crawford (a1) and Karen J. Campbell (a1)...


Children’s learning about food is considerable during their formative years, with parental influence being pivotal. Research has focused predominantly on maternal influences, with little known about the relationships between fathers’ and children’s diets. Greater understanding of this relationship is necessary for the design of appropriate interventions. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between the diets of fathers and their children and the moderating effects of fathers’ BMI, education and age on these associations. The diets of fathers and their first-born children (n 317) in the Melbourne Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Program were assessed using an FFQ and 3×24-h recalls, respectively. The InFANT Program is a cluster-randomised controlled trial in the setting of first-time parents groups in Victoria, Australia. Associations between father and child fruit, vegetable, non-core food and non-core drink intakes were assessed using linear regression. The extent to which these associations were mediated by maternal intake was tested. Moderation of associations by paternal BMI, education and age was assessed. Positive associations were found between fathers’ and children’s intake of fruit, sweet snacks and take-away foods. Paternal BMI, education and age moderated the relationships found for the intakes of fruit (BMI), vegetables (age), savoury snacks (BMI and education) and take-away foods (BMI and education). Our findings suggest that associations exist at a young age and are moderated by paternal BMI, education and age. This study highlights the importance of fathers in modelling healthy diets for their children.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Associations between dietary intakes of first-time fathers and their 20-month-old children are moderated by fathers’ BMI, education and age
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Associations between dietary intakes of first-time fathers and their 20-month-old children are moderated by fathers’ BMI, education and age
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Associations between dietary intakes of first-time fathers and their 20-month-old children are moderated by fathers’ BMI, education and age
      Available formats


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: A. D. Walsh, email


Hide All
1. Commonwealth of Australia (2008) 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey – Main Findings, no. 1741867568. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
2. Emmett, P (2009) Dietary assessment in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, S38S44.
3. Lioret, S, McNaughton, SA, Spence, AC, et al. (2013) Tracking of dietary intakes in early childhood: the Melbourne InFANT Program. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 275281.
4. Siega-Riz, AM, Deming, DM, Reidy, KC, et al. (2010) Food consumption patterns of infants and toddlers: where are we now? J Am Diet Assoc 110, S38S51.
5. Cowin, I & Emmett, P (2007) Diet in a group of 18-month-old children in South West England, and comparison with the results of a national survey. J Hum Nutr Diet 20, 254267.
6. Duncanson, K, Burrows, T & Collins, C (2013) Effect of a low-intensity parent-focused nutrition intervention on dietary intake of 2- to 5-year olds. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 57, 728734.
7. Reilly, JJ & Kelly, J (2011) Long-term impact of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence on morbidity and premature mortality in adulthood: systematic review. Int J Obes (Lond) 35, 891898.
8. Wijlaars, LP, Johnson, L, van Jaarsveld, CH, et al. (2011) Socioeconomic status and weight gain in early infancy. Int J Obes (Lond) 35, 963970.
9. Bouthoorn, SH, Wijtzes, AI, Jaddoe, VWV, et al. (2014) Development of socioeconomic inequalities in obesity among Dutch pre-school and school-aged children. Obesity 22, 22302237.
10. Freeman, E, Fletcher, R, Collins, CE, et al. (2012) Preventing and treating childhood obesity: time to target fathers. Int J Obes (Lond) 36, 1215.
11. Northstone, K & Emmett, PM (2008) Are dietary patterns stable throughout early and mid-childhood? A birth cohort study. Br J Nutr 100, 10691076.
12. Biddle, SJ, Pearson, N, Ross, GM, et al. (2010) Tracking of sedentary behaviours of young people: a systematic review. Prev Med 51, 345351.
13. Craigie, AM, Lake, AA, Kelly, SA, et al. (2011) Tracking of obesity-related behaviours from childhood to adulthood: a systematic review. Maturitas 70, 266284.
14. Cameron, AJ, Ball, K, Pearson, N, et al. (2012) Socioeconomic variation in diet and activity-related behaviours of Australian children and adolescents aged 2-16 years. Pediatr Obes 7, 329342.
15. Campbell, K & Crawford, D (2001) Family food environments as determinants of preschool-aged children’s eating behaviours: implications for obesity prevention policy. A review. Aust J Nutr Diet 58, 1925.
16. Berge, JM, Wall, M, Neumark-Sztainer, D, et al. (2010) Parenting style and family meals: cross-sectional and 5-year longitudinal associations. J Am Diet Assoc 110, 10361042.
17. Birch, LL (1980) Effects of peer model’s food choices and eating behaviors on preschoolers’ food preferences. Child Dev 51, 489496.
18. Birch, LL & Fisher, JO (1998) Development of eating behaviors among children and adolescents. Pediatrics 101, 539549.
19. Gustafson, SL & Rhodes, RE (2006) Parental correlates of physical activity in children and early adolescents. Sports Med 36, 7997.
20. Skinner, JD, Carruth, BR, Bounds, W, et al. (2002) Children’s food preferences: a longitudinal analysis. J Am Diet Assoc 102, 16381647.
21. Cooke, LJ, Wardle, J, Gibson, EL, et al. (2004) Demographic, familial and trait predictors of fruit and vegetable consumption by pre-school children. Public Health Nutr 7, 295302.
22. Carnell, S, Cooke, L, Cheng, R, et al. (2011) Parental feeding behaviours and motivations. A qualitative study in mothers of UK pre-schoolers. Appetite 57, 665673.
23. Peters, J, Sinn, N, Campbell, K, et al. (2011) Parental influences on the diets of 2–5-year-old children: systematic review of interventions. Early Child Dev Care 182, 837857.
24. Rasmussen, M, Krølner, R, Klepp, K-I, et al. (2006) Determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and adolescents: a review of the literature. Part I: quantitative studies. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 3, 22.
25. Sotos-Prieto, M, Santos-Beneit, G, Pocock, S, et al. (2014) Parental and self-reported dietary and physical activity habits in pre-school children and their socio-economic determinants. Public Health Nutr 18, 275285.
26. Wang, Y, Beydoun, MA, Li, J, et al. (2011) Do children and their parents eat a similar diet? Resemblance in child and parental dietary intake: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health 65, 177189.
27. Beydoun, MA & Wang, Y (2009) Parent-child dietary intake resemblance in the United States: evidence from a large representative survey. Soc Sci Med 68, 21372144.
28. Robinson, LN, Rollo, ME, Watson, J, et al. (2014) Relationships between dietary intakes of children and their parents: a cross-sectional, secondary analysis of families participating in the Family Diet Quality Study. J Hum Nutr Diet (epublication ahead of print version 1 August 2013).
29. Hall, L, Collins, CE, Morgan, PJ, et al. (2011) Children’s intake of fruit and selected energy-dense nutrient-poor foods is associated with fathers’ intake. J Am Diet Assoc 111, 10391044.
30. Wake, M, Nicholson, JM, Hardy, P, et al. (2007) Preschooler obesity and parenting styles of mothers and fathers: Australian national population study. Pediatrics 120, e15201527.
31. Brophy, S, Rees, A, Knox, G, et al. (2012) Child fitness and ’father’s BMI are important factors in childhood obesity: a school based cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE 7, e36597e36597.
32. Giovannini, M, Riva, E, Banderali, G, et al. (2004) Feeding practices of infants through the first year of life in Italy. Acta Paediatr 93, 492497.
33. Smithers, LG, Brazionis, L, Golley, RK, et al. (2012) Associations between dietary patterns at 6 and 15 months of age and sociodemographic factors. Eur J Clin Nutr 66, 658666.
34. Campbell, K, Hesketh, K, Crawford, D, et al. (2008) The Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (INFANT) an early intervention to prevent childhood obesity: cluster-randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health 8, 103111.
35. Campbell, KJ, Lioret, S, McNaughton, SA, et al. (2013) A parent-focused intervention to reduce infant obesity risk behaviors: a randomized trial. Pediatrics 131, 652660.
36. Hodge, A, Patterson, AJ, Brown, WJ, et al. (2000) The Anti Cancer Council of Victoria FFQ: relative validity of nutrient intakes compared with weighed food records in young to middle-aged women in a study of iron supplementation. Aust N Z J Public Health 24, 576583.
37. Ireland, P, Jolley, D, Giles, G, et al. (1994) Development of the Melbourne FFQ: a food frequency questionnaire for use in an Australian prospective study involving an ethnically diverse cohort. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 3, 1931.
38. Cameron, AJ, Ball, K, Hesketh, KD, et al. (2014) Variation in outcomes of the Melbourne Infant, Feeding, Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Program according to maternal education and age. Prev Med 58, 5863.
39. Australia and New Zealand Food Authority (1999) Australian Food and Nutrient Database. (accessed November 2014).
40. Blanton, CA, Moshfegh, AJ, Baer, DJ, et al. (2006) The USDA Automated Multiple-Pass Method accurately estimates group total energy and nutrient intake. J Nutr 136, 25942599.
41. Spence, AC, McNaughton, SA, Lioret, S, et al. (2013) A health promotion intervention can affect diet quality in early childhood. Nutr 143, 16721678.
42. Ziegler, P, Briefel, R, Clusen, N, et al. (2006) Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS): development of the FITS survey in comparison to other dietary survey methods. J Am Diet Assoc 106, S12S27.
43. MacKinnon, DP, Fairchild, AJ & Fritz, MS (2007) Mediation analysis. Annu Rev Psychol 58, 593614.
44. Whisman, MA & McClelland, GH (2005) Designing, testing, and interpreting interactions and moderator effects in family research. J Fam Psychol 19, 111120.
45. Fairchild, A & MacKinnon, D (2009) A general model for testing mediation and moderation effects. Prev Sci 10, 8799.
46. Kraemer, H, Wilson, G, Fairburn, CG, et al. (2002) Mediators and moderators of treatment effects in randomized clinical trials. Arch Gen Psychiatry 59, 877883.
47. Brown, R & Ogden, J (2004) Children’s eating attitudes and behaviour: a study of the modelling and control theories of parental influence. Health Educ Res 19, 261271.
48. Longbottom, PJ, Wrieden, WL & Pine, CM (2002) Is there a relationship between the food intakes of Scottish 5½−8½-year-olds and those of their mothers? J Hum Nutr Diet 15, 271279.
49. Robinson, S, Marriott, L, Poole, J, et al. (2007) Dietary patterns in infancy: the importance of maternal and family influences on feeding practice. Br J Nutr 98, 10291037.
50. Lioret, S, McNaughton, SA, Crawford, D, et al. (2012) Parents’ dietary patterns are significantly correlated: findings from the Melbourne Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial Program. Br J Nutr 108, 518526.
51. Lioret, S, Cameron, AJ, McNaughton, S, et al. (2013) Association between maternal education and diet of children at 9 months is partially explained by mothers’ diet. Matern Child Nutr (epublication ahead of print version 8 April 2014).
52. Gardner, DS, Hosking, J, Metcalf, BS, et al. (2009) Contribution of early weight gain to childhood overweight and metabolic health: a longitudinal study (EarlyBird 36). Pediatrics 123, e67e73.
53. van der Horst, K, Brunner, TA & Siegrist, M (2011) Fast food and take-away food consumption are associated with different lifestyle characteristics. J Hum Nutr Diet 24, 596602.
54. Devine, CM, Farrell, TJ, Blake, CE, et al. (2009) Work conditions and the food choice coping strategies of employed parents. J Nutr Educ Behav 41, 365370.
55. Brown, WJ, Trost, SG, Bauman, A, et al. (2004) Test-retest reliability of four physical activity measures used in population surveys. J Sci Med Sport 7, 205215.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Walsh supplementary material
Table S1-S2

 Word (17 KB)
17 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed