The Longitudinal Association Between Early Childhood Obesity and Fathers’ Involvement in Caregiving and Decision-Making

Michelle S. Wong, Jessica C. Jones-Smith, Elizabeth Colantuoni, Roland J. Thorpe, Sara N. Bleich, Kitty S. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Fathers have increased their involvement in child caregiving; however, their changing role in childhood obesity is understudied. This study assessed the longitudinal association between changes in obesity among children aged 2 to 4 years and changes in fathers' involvement with raising children. Methods: Longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort were used to conduct child fixed-effects linear and logistic regression analyses to assess the association between changes in childhood obesity-related outcomes (sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, screen time, BMI z score, overweight/obesity, obesity) and fathers' involvement with raising children (caregiving and influencing child-related decisions). Fixed-effects models control for all time-invariant characteristics. Analyses were controlled for time-varying confounders, including child age, maternal and paternal employment, and family poverty status. Results: Children whose fathers increased their frequency of taking children outside and involvement with physical childcare experienced a decrease in their odds of obesity from age 2 to age 4. Obesity-related outcomes were not associated with fathers' decision-making influence. Conclusions: Increases in fathers' involvement with some aspects of caregiving may be associated with lower odds of childhood obesity. Encouraging fathers to increase their involvement with raising children and including fathers in childhood obesity prevention efforts may help reduce obesity risk among young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1754-1761
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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