Purpose: The aim of the study was to examine mother-child connectedness and father-child connectedness in adolescence as potential protective factors against a range of disordered eating symptoms in young adulthood among males and females.
Methods: This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 13,532). Sex-stratified logistic regression models adjusted for demographic covariates were conducted to examine associations of youth-reported mother-child connectedness and father-child connectedness in adolescence (mean age = 15.4 years) with disordered eating symptoms in young adulthood (mean age = 21.8 years).
Results: In this nationally representative sample of U.S. young adults, 7.2% of participants reported binge eating-related concerns, 3.7% reported compensatory behaviors (e.g., self-induced vomiting) to control weight, and 8.6% reported fasting/skipping meals to control weight. Among females, both higher mother-child connectedness and higher father-child connectedness were associated with lower odds of binge eating-related concerns (mother-child: odds ratio [OR] = .83, 95% confidence interval [CI] = .74-.94; father-child: OR = .79, 95% CI = .69-.91), compensatory behaviors (mother-child: OR = .85, 95% CI = .75-.97; father-child: OR = .81, 95% CI = .69-.95), and fasting/skipping meals (mother-child: OR = .79, 95% CI = .72-.87; father-child: OR = .81, 95% CI = .73-.91). No statistically significant associations were observed for mother-child connectedness or father-child connectedness with future disordered eating symptoms among males.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that improving mother-child connectedness and father-child connectedness in adolescence may be valuable targets for eating disorders intervention, particularly among females.
Keywords: Adolescent; Father–child relations; Feeding and eating disorders; Mother–child relations; Parent–child relations; Young adult.
Copyright © 2019 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.