"it's really important we've found this link, because a lot of the research tends to focus on mothers and children," she says. "we've had lots of stories of dads refusing to eat vegetables, then the kids don't eat them either."
she says further research is needed to understand the underlying reasons for the link.
making a change
so what can fathers do to become better role models for their kids?
"they should definitely be more aware of the different behaviours they are modelling to their kids; they need to demonstrate they're eating fruit and vegies and get outside more," says dr freeman, who has been involved with healthy dads, healthy kids, an education program in the hunter valley in nsw, and has seen these actions bring encouraging results.