A recent systematic review found that existing pediatric obesity treatment or prevention programs with parent involvement are lacking father engagement.
The review included 213 randomized controlled trials (RCT) assessing behavioral interventions to prevent or treat obesity in pediatric samples with active parent involvement. Of the RCTs that limited participation to only one parent (n = 80), fathers represented only 6% of parents. In RCTs in which participation was open to both parents (n = 133), 92% did not report data on father involvement. Furthermore, even though fathers were largely absent from these studies, only four studies mentioned the lack of fathers as a limitation and only two studies reported explicit attempts to get more fathers to participate.
More research is needed to fully understand how the absence of fathers may influence the effectiveness of obesity interventions, or how much adding fathers to future studies might benefit kids.