Researchers and Dads team up against obesity

Mar 8 2010

Hunter researchers and Dads will team up against obesity in a new research partnership between the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and Coal and Allied.

The Coal and Allied Community Development Fund has committed $524,453 over three years to HMRI to fund a world-first community-driven approach to reducing obesity, one of Australia’s most pressing health problems.

“Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids is an internationally significant program that teaches Dads how to survive in today’s high calorie, low exercise environment. It recognises that fathers are role models to their children, and equips them with the knowledge and tools to improve their family’s quality of life,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Philip Morgan from the University of Newcastle.

Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids was successfully piloted in a University setting in Newcastle in 2009 and preliminary results indicate that the program was a great success. With Coal and Allied’s support, it will now be trialled in a community setting in Singleton, before extending to Maitland, Cessnock, Scone and Muswellbrook.

“We will train health and education leaders within each community, enabling them to continue the program beyond the first three years for long-term health benefits. Many families will have the opportunity to complete the program and experience improved physical and psychological health,” said Professor Morgan.

Newcastlefather and business owner Shannyn Robards participated in the first Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids study and said it was life-changing for his whole family.

“It changed the way we look at food across the whole house and has made us a lot more conscious of physical activity and time together. I dropped from 86 to 72 kilos and have since beaten my 27 year old son in a half marathon!” said Mr Robards.

“In time, this project could be adopted by government, health care policy makers and communities throughout Australia, improving the health of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Coal and Allied Community Development Fund Executive Officer Stephen Sneddon.

HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.