Moderating effects of family environment on overweight/obese adolescents’ dietary behaviours

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Background: The familial environment can influence adolescents’ risk for obesity. However, we do not fully understand the mechanisms through which parents can influence overweight/obese adolescents’ dietary behaviours, specifically whether parenting practices (e.g., rules or routines) and/or their own dietary behaviours are associated with their overweight/obese adolescent's dietary quality. Objectives: This study examined whether parenting practices and/or parental modeling of dietary quality are associated with overweight/obese adolescents’ dietary quality while considering the moderating effects of parenting styles and family functioning. Methods: Baseline data from 172 overweight/obese adolescents and one of their parents who enrolled in a lifestyle modification intervention were analyzed [mean age = 13.1 (1.8); mean BMI z-score = 2.70 (0.83)]. Parent-adolescent dyads completed three 24-hr dietary recalls online. An index of dietary quality was computed by summing the scores for different food categories assessed in the dietary recall over 3 days. Parents completed questionnaires about their family functioning, dietary parenting practices (i.e., whether child eats breakfast everyday), and styles (authoritative and permissive). Path analysis was used to model interrelationships among the variables using the Stata software version 13. Results: Parental modeling of dietary quality was significantly associated with adolescent dietary quality. Additionally, parenting styles significantly moderated parental modeling, such that an authoritative parenting style in conjunction with modeling healthy eating habits was associated with better adolescent dietary quality. Conclusions: This work suggests that parental modeling of health behaviours is important; however, it is necessary to consider the broader emotional/relational context into which modeling is expressed since parenting styles moderated these effects. This study provides insight into how parenting styles may alter the effectiveness of parental modeling and highlights the need to account for parenting styles to improve the efficacy of current family-based interventions.




Carbert, N. S., Brussoni, M., Geller, J., & Mâsse, L. C. (2019). Moderating effects of family environment on overweight/obese adolescents’ dietary behaviours. Appetite, 134, 69–77.

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