As the first ever obesity intervention targeting fathers and children, HDHK is a highly innovative program. In particular, there are three key novel elements of HDHK:
- Magic of reciprocal reinforcement: In HDHK, reciprocal reinforcement is employed through motivating positive changes in fathers’ lifestyle behaviours, which are subsequently reflected in the child’s behaviour and vice versa. The program engaged dads to become role models for their children while engaging children to become ‘personal trainers’ for their dads. For example, the program motivated fathers to engage in physical activity with their children and involve them in healthy eating opportunities. In turn, the children were encouraged to prompt and encourage their fathers to adopt healthier behaviours. This reciprocal reinforcement of healthier behaviours between father and child(ren) was a major feature and key to the success of the program.
- Improving family relationships through physical activity and healthy eating: As well as the health benefits that fathers and children derive through the program, HDHK is demonstrated to improve family relationships. The program engages dads to spend quality time with their children using exercise and healthy eating as the engagement medium. The physical activity arena is well suited to fathers’ masculine interaction styles, and facilitates fun and active play. This positive, unique involvement fosters closeness between fathers and their kids.
- Targeting and tailoring for fathers: Most research-based and commercial weight loss programs have been designed specifically with women in mind. These programs fail to embed motivators relevant to men. As such, the majority of existing programs do not appeal to or engage men. HDHK has been designed and tailored to engage fathers through use of humour, language and content that caters for men’s physical, psychological and sociological needs. HDHK is a program that appeals to fathers’ fundamental motivation to be a good role model and do the best they can for their children.