More than 20 local fathers have started the new year on a lighter and healthier note after taking part in the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program.
The program ran in Singleton late last year for the fourth time since 2009, and will come back to Singleton in May this year.
The award-winning program is a partnership between Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community.
It is being rolled out in communities across the Upper Hunter Valley in seven sessions, focusing on weight loss for dads, healthy eating, and physical activity sessions designed to help dads and their children bond.
Participating dads in Singleton lost an average of three kilograms (three per cent weight loss) and 2.5 centimetres around the waist over 12 weeks, providing a great start to implementing long term and sustainable changes to their lifestyle around diet, exercise, and developing healthier families.
Local father-of-two and electrician Robert Hill joined the program after a visit to the doctor discovered abnormally high blood sugar levels.
“I was eating a lot of foods high in sugar and fat and after that visit to the doctor, it suddenly dawned on me that if I wasn’t careful and started watching what I eat, I could end up with Type II diabetes,” Mr Hill said.
Armed with this information, and after further prompting from his family, Mr Hill signed up to the program with his sons Ricky, 11, and Zac, 10, where he lost nearly 10kgs and 10cm around his waist.
“The best part of the program for me was that it provided information about the common foods we eat and I learned that there’s a lot more sugar and fat in those foods than most of us realise,” Mr Hill said.
“Since joining the program and losing the weight, my sugar levels have gone back to normal and I’ve discovered a new-found discipline with my diet and exercise.
“I’m more active these days and do more activities with the kids like backyard cricket.
“I’ve also started to read the labels on food items before I buy and it’s increased my understanding significantly about what my family is consuming.
“For example, we used to drink a lot of juice thinking that it was reasonably healthy but many of the brands are high in sugar so now we’re trying to drink more water.”
Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids lead investigator Professor Philip Morgan said he was proud to bring the program to Singleton for a fourth time and help achieve some great results once again for local fathers and their children.
“These fathers should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Professor Morgan said.
“Children with an overweight father are four times as likely to be overweight at the age of 18, so dads have a critically important role in developing healthy eating habits and understanding how to promote age-appropriate physical activity with their children.”
“While improved family health is a significant outcome from the program, the best reward of all is that dads are spending more time with their kids as they learn about healthy food and exercise together.”
Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment Stephen Sneddon said Coal & Allied is pleased to support the program and is encouraged by the results from Singleton.
“This program has now run in Newcastle, Singleton, Scone, Maitland, Muswellbrook, and Cessnock and is making a significant and positive difference to the quality of life for many fathers and their families,” Mr Sneddon said.
“Since 2010, we have been pleased to support this programme by investing $525,000 over three years through our Coal & Allied Community Development Fund.
“This funding has helped convert the University of Newcastle’s research into a community-owned model that can be managed and run by local people in our Upper Hunter Valley communities into the future.
“A portion of the funding has been used to develop local people with the skill-set and knowledge to assist in the ongoing facilitation of the programme in their local communities.
“Our aim is that this will help ensure dads and their families continue to take positive action towards their future health and wellbeing.”
The program will revisit local Hunter Valley communities again this year. To find out more or how you can be involved, please contact Joel Cruickshank on (02) 4921 6721 or emailJoel.Cruickshank@newcastle.edu.au.