The association of food parenting practices with adolescents' dietary behaviors differ by youth gender, but not by parent gender

Appetite. 2022 Feb 1;169:105846. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105846. Epub 2021 Dec 3.


Background: Parents affect their adolescents' dietary behaviors through food parenting practices both directly and indirectly through adolescents' cognitive factors (self-efficacy, intrinsic or extrinsic motivation). However, it is not known if mothers and fathers use of different food parenting practices similarly influences boys' and girls' dietary behaviors. This study investigated the direct and indirect associations between food parenting practices and adolescents' dietary behaviors (fruits/vegetables and sugar sweetened beverage (SSB)) and whether these associations differed by adolescents' or parents' gender.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2014 Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating Study. A sample of 1633 American adolescent-parent dyads (73.7% mothers; 50.4% girls) completed the self-reported tools. Models were stratified by adolescents' gender and differences by parent gender were explored as a moderator.

Results: Differences did not emerge based on gender of parents. However, associations between food parenting practices and adolescents' dietary behaviors differed by adolescents' gender. Direct associations between autonomy supportive food parenting practices and fruit/vegetable intake (β = 0.18, p < .05) and intrinsic motivations and SSB consumption (β = -0.13, p < .05) were detected only among boys. Direct associations, regardless of gender, were also found including structured food parenting practices and adolescent self-efficacy with their dietary behaviors; controlling food parenting practices with SSB intake; as well as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with fruit/vegetable intake. Findings from the mediation analyses supported these trends with structured parenting practices displaying similar associations on boys' and girls' dietary behaviors. In contrast, controlling and autonomy supportive parenting practices have significant indirect associations on dietary behaviors through motivation for boys only.

Conclusion: Adolescent boys and girls appear to be affected differently by food parenting practices and accounting for these differences may contribute to more effective dietary interventions.

Keywords: Adolescence; Dietary behaviors; Food parenting practices; Sex behavior change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Diet
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting* / psychology
  • Parents

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