In a new study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, and Dr. Ledric Sherman, examined the influence African-American fathers have on their children. They used data from focus groups of African-American fathers in rural east Texas communities and found that these fathers considered diet to be the most important issue for their children. Further in-depth examination found that responses fell into three categories: teaching by example, expense of healthy eating and issues related to cooking and eating at home.
The fathers in the study overwhelmingly said they saw that they should talk to their children about healthy eating and act as a model for healthy behaviors as well as limiting unhealthy food consumption and providing a balanced diet. Many fathers pointed to the fast pace of daily life and limited time as being obstacles for healthy diets and noted how children will follow the dietary examples set by their parents.
Another barrier for healthy eating discussed was the financial cost related to healthy eating. Many of the participants thought that some parents had to buy cheaper and less healthful options and that fresh fruits and vegetables were too expensive for some parents. They also noted how fresh food’s limited shelf life can lead to wasted money when spoiled food is thrown out.
The third area the fathers identified was how important cooking and eating at home is for maintaining healthy habits. Cooking at home not only enables the family to eat healthier foods, it reduces the likelihood of fast food consumption. However, the fathers in the focus groups noted that cooking and eating at home was not always achievable.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on June 28