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The role of fathers in overweight prevention: an analysis of a Caribbean cohort

  • J. A. Smith (a1), K. D. Rocke (a1), S. M. Charles (a2) (a3), S. M. Chang (a1), A. S. Wright (a1), S. P. Walker (a1), E. M. Taveras (a4) and M. K. Tulloch-Reid (a1)...



Family-based strategies to reduce the risk of overweight in childhood are needed in the Caribbean.


To investigate the associations between parental characteristics and risk of overweight and explore possible mechanisms.


Data from a parenting intervention were analysed. Parental characteristics were obtained by questionnaire at enrolment. At 18 months, 501 infants (82.9% of cohort) had weight and length measured using standardized methods. The association of parents’ characteristics with risk of infant overweight was assessed using random-effects logistic regression. Four focus groups among mothers in Jamaica were conducted to explore mechanisms.


Overall, 20.6% of infants were ‘at risk of overweight’. Fathers were present in 52% of households. Fathers’ presence [OR (95% CI) 0.60 (0.37–0.96)] was associated with reduced risk of overweight independent of socioeconomic status. Mothers reported that fathers encouraged healthier practices.


Fathers may be important agents of change in intervention strategies to prevent childhood overweight.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Joanne A. Smith, E-mail:


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