Jeffrey T. H. So, Smita Nambiar, Rebecca Byrne, Danielle Gallegos, Kimberley A. Baxter

Dads at Mealtimes: Associations between Food Security, Household and Work Chaos, and Paternal Feeding Practices among Australian Fathers Living with Disadvantage

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Understanding how fathers engage in feeding while experiencing disadvantage is important for family-focused interventions. A cross-sectional online survey involving 264 Australian fathers was conducted to explore feeding involvement and the relationships between feeding practices, food insecurity, and household and work chaos. Practices related to coercive control, structure, and autonomy support were measured for two age groups (<2 years and 2–5 years). Multivariable linear regression was used to examine the associations for each practice. Three-quarters of the sample were food insecure, impacting adults more than children, and correlated with household chaos. Food insecurity was associated with increased ‘persuasive feeding’ and ‘parent-led feeding’ in younger children. Household chaos was positively associated with coercive control practices in both younger and older child groups, with the strongest associations for ‘using food to calm’ and ‘overt restriction’, respectively. In older child groups, household chaos was negatively associated with ‘offer new foods’ and ‘repeated presentation of new foods’. Structure practices had no significant relationships with any factors, and work chaos did not predict any feeding practices. These findings emphasize a need for societal and structural support to address food insecurity and household chaos. Tailored strategies are crucial to support fathers in responsive feeding.

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