Nonresident Father Involvement and Child Obesity

Lenna Nepomnyaschy, Rutgers University

Prior research suggests that nonresident fathers’ financial, social, and emotional involvement with children may contribute to improvements in child well-being. One outcome that has received little attention in this research area is child obesity, which today affects 20% of young children. While nonresident father involvement may reduce children’s risk of obesity, the ‘Disneyland Dad’ hypothesis, that nonresident fathers indulge children because of their desire to spend their limited time together in a conflict-free way, suggests otherwise. The current study tests this hypothesis by examining the association of nonresident fathers’ involvement with obesity risk among 3 to 9 year old children, using three waves of pooled panel data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Models examine different indicators of fathers’ involvement; control for a rich set of time-varying family characteristics, including both parents’ BMI; and test for differential effects of involvement as children age and across important sub-groups.

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Presented in Session 150: Family Structure, Father Involvement and Childhood Obesity