Dads make a healthy difference

15/06/18 . News

Let’s hear it for dads. When it comes to the health of their kids, they are making a bigger contribution than is often realised, according to our latest report.

Dads Make A Difference; Father and Family Health asks the question: do dads matter in their childrens' health? And the evidence is overwhelmingly yes. What men do affects their children’s health whether they want it to or not, even before birth (and that doesn’t just apply to activities directly related to healthcare.)

The report found that while mum was most likely to take children to medical appointments and most likely to be responsible for cooking, dad was most likely to take children to the playground, to engage in physical activity with them or to take them to sports clubs. Buying medicine and talking about food was shared. 


Activity Mostly…
When the child/children have medical needs, who usually makes the appointment? Mum
When the child/children have medical needs, who usually takes them to the appointment? Mum
Who usually plans meals for the family? Mum
Who usually cooks WITH the children? Mum
Who usually does the shopping for the family? Mum
When the child/children have medical needs, who usually buys the medicine? Shared
Who usually talks to the child/ children about food and nutrition? Shared
Who took the child/children to the playground most frequently in the last month Dad
Who has engaged in physical activity WITH their child/ children most frequently in the last month Dad
Who took the child/children to sportsclubs most frequently in the last month Dad

Martin Tod, Chief Executive of the Men’s Health Forum, said:

Many people, including policy-makers, professionals and commissioners, assume that when it comes to family health, it’s all down to mum. It isn't. Dads may do more than you think.

Health is about much more than ‘not being sick’. It’s also about healthy eating, fitness and exercise - and, on average, men share the work or do most of the work on those areas.

And even if we are thinking about sickness, physical activity and exercise play a vital role in preventing ill-health. We need policies and services designed to make it easier for men to do what they already do and enable and encourage them to do more.

The report brings together the limited research with new survey evidence and case studies to argue that with the right policies and services, fathers could do even more to boost their children’s health. The report recommends to policy-makers that they:

  • target men
  • make every contact count
  • be father-friendly
  • value dad’s difference
  • understand that supporting dads also supports mums

For more information and a copy:

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

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