Parenting style as a predictor of adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors

J Adolesc Health. 2010 Apr;46(4):331-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.08.004.


Purpose: Current research indicates that specific parenting styles are associated with adolescent overweight, dietary intake, and physical activity; but most of the research has been cross-sectional, making it difficult to determine the temporal order of these associations. The current study adds to the previous research by examining 5-year longitudinal associations between parenting style and adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors.

Methods: Data from Project EAT, a population-based study with adolescents from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, were used. Adolescents (N = 2,516) from 31 Minnesota schools completed in-class assessments in 1999 (Time 1) and mailed surveys in 2004 (Time 2). Multiple linear regression models were used to predict mean levels of adolescent outcomes at Time 2 from parenting style at Time 1.

Results: Time 1 maternal authoritative parenting style predicted lower body mass index in adolescent sons and daughters at Time 2. Time 1 paternal permissive parenting style predicted more fruits and vegetables intake in daughters at Time 2. Significant associations were not found between parenting style and adolescent physical activity.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that authoritative parenting style may play a protective role related to adolescent overweight and that the dimension of warmth and/or caring in the parent-adolescent relationship may be important in relation to female adolescent healthy dietary intake. Further exploration of opposite sex parent-adolescent dyad patterns related to parenting style and adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Adult
  • Authoritarianism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Permissiveness
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires