The University of Newcastle’s (UON) multi award winning Healthy Dads Healthy Kids program led by Professor Philip Morgan will be adapted for an ethnically diverse population in Birmingham in the United Kingdom (UK), after the program received a $916,315 grant from the UK National Institute of Health Research with the University of Birmingham and The Fatherhood Institute (UK).

Professor Philip Morgan

Healthy Dads Healthy Kids is a world-first program that is aimed at engaging fathers in positive lifestyle role modelling and effective parenting strategies to improve the physical activity and dietary behaviours of both themselves and their children. Importantly, fathers spend quality time with their children using exercise and healthy eating as the engagement medium.

The program also received global recognition in 2014 when Professor Morgan and his team were awarded the prestigious ‘Excellence in Obesity Prevention Award’ from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention in Australia, and the ‘Best Community Engagement’ award from the Business/Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT).

Professor Morgan said obesity in men, and prevention of obesity in children, are international public health priorities.

“Fathers have a major influence on the physical, social and emotional development of their children but benefit greatly from education about evidence-based parenting strategies to optimise the physical and mental well-being of their children,” Professor Morgan said.

“Healthy Dads Healthy Kids aims to help fathers achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and improve the activity and eating behaviours of their children. The program motivates dads to become role models for their children while teaching children to become ‘personal trainers’ for their dads.

The UK research project, ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids UK: a cultural adaptation and feasibility study of a weight management program for fathers of younger children’, will see adaptation of the program as well as testing of the program feasibility and efficacy using a randomised controlled trial.

“This is an exciting opportunity and demonstrates the global interest, relevance and significance of Healthy Dads Healthy Kids,” Professor Morgan said.

The Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids program is a partnership between Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community.