Anti-fat attitudes and dietary restraint within mother-daughter dyads: an Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) analysis

Eat Weight Disord. 2021 Jun;26(5):1417-1426. doi: 10.1007/s40519-020-00949-w. Epub 2020 Jun 28.


Purpose: This study examined the association between anti-fat attitudes (fear of fat, dislike of fat, willpower) and dietary restraint within the mother-daughter relationship.

Methods: Mother-adolescent daughter dyads (Npairs = 100) were recruited from a Midwestern community to participate in a study together. They completed self-report measures of anti-fat attitudes and eating behavior. Data were analyzed with an Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM).

Results: Significant actor effects for mothers include fear of fat (b = 0.270, B = 0.319, p < 0.05) and willpower (b = 0.228, B = 0.280, p < 0.05) predicting her own dietary restraint. For daughters, fear of fat (b = 0.554, B = 0.612, p < 0.05) and dislike (b = 0.202, B = 0.214, p < 0.05) predict her own dietary restraint. Regarding partner effects, mothers' fear of fat was related to daughters' dietary restraint (b = 0.126, B = 0.138, p < 0.05), and daughters' dislike was related to mothers' restraint (b = 0.257, B = 0.294, p < 0.05). Regarding dyad-level interaction effects, mother and daughter fear of fat interacted to predict daughter dietary restraint (b = 0.184, B = 0.201, p < 0.05), such that when both mother and daughter fear of fat is high, daughters appear to engage in more dietary restraint.

Conclusions: Given the role of mothers' fear of fat in daughter eating behavior, parent-focused or parent-involved interventions may improve family culture around weight and eating, contributing to better adolescent outcomes.

Level of evidence: V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Keywords: Adolescence; Anti-fat attitudes; Dietary restraint; Dislike; Fear of fat; Parent–child; Willpower.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers*
  • Nuclear Family