To evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of the ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ (HDHK) program which was designed to help overweight fathers lose weight and role model positive health behaviors to their children.


Randomized controlled trial


Fifty-three overweight/obese men (mean [sd] age = 40.6 [7.1] years; BMI = 33.2 [3.9]) and their primary school-aged children (n =71, 54% boys; mean [sd] age = 8.2 [2.0] years) were randomly assigned (family unit) to either (i) HDHK program (n = 26 fathers, n = 39 children) or (ii) a wait-list control group (n = 27 fathers, n = 32 children).


Fathers in the 3-month program attended eight face-to-face education sessions. Children attended three of these sessions.


Primary outcome was fathers’ weight. Fathers and their children were assessed at baseline, 3- and 6-month follow-up for weight, waist circumference, BMI, blood pressure, resting heart rate, objectively measured physical activity and self-reported dietary intake.


Intention-to-treat analysis revealed significant between group differences at 6 months for weight loss (P <.001), with HDHK fathers losing more weight (-7.6kg; 95% CI -9.2, -6.0; (d = .54) than control group fathers (0.0kg; 95% CI -1.4, 1.6).

Significant treatment effects (P < .05) were also found for waist circumference (d = .62), BMI (d = .53), blood pressure (d = .92), resting heart rate (d = .60) and physical activity (d = .92) but not for dietary intake. In children, significant treatment effects (P <.05) were found for physical activity (d = .74), resting heart rate (d = .51) and dietary intake (d = .84).


The HDHK program resulted in significant weight loss and improved health-related outcomes in fathers and improved eating and physical activity among children. Targeting fathers is a novel and efficacious approach to improving health behaviours in their children.