An examination of the relationship between perceived parental involvement and adolescent eating and exercise habits

Pamela Lea Steadman, University of Rhode Island


Pediatric obesity is a major public health concern with alarming increases in prevalence rates over the past three decades, despite improvements in treatment and prevention efforts. Much of the focus on pediatric obesity prevention has revolved around children; however, little attention has been targeted toward adolescents. The current study is the first to examine the contribution of parental and adolescent perceptions of parental involvement in adolescent eating and exercise habits. Forty-six adolescent-parent dyads completed measures of perceived parental concern, responsibility, control and pressure exerted over adolescent health behaviors (AHB). Adolescents completed measures of current physical activity, eating habits, weight control practices and weight status (BMI) was obtained. Significant strong positive associations between parents' concern for teens' weight, parents' perceptions of how much responsibility they assume for their teens' health habits and adolescent weight status (BMI) were exhibited. In contrast to the hypotheses, neither adolescent nor parental perceptions of parental involvement were associated teen's self-reported eating and exercise habits. ^ Although not specifically hypothesized, strong positive associations between parent and adolescent perspectives were also evidenced. Parents and teens, in this sample, agreed that the amount of parental concern and responsibility parents' assume for teen's health habits relates to the amount of control, monitoring and pressure parents exert toward teen's eating and exercise habits. Results from this study were independent of teen age, gender, ethnicity, parent gender, marital status, parent occupation and education level. ^ Findings augment previous literature demonstrating associations between maternal feeding practices and young children's self-regulatory cues for hunger and satiety. Results are also consistent with the correspondence between adolescent and parent perceptions of parental influence in other health monitoring behaviors, such as diabetes and asthma management, demonstrated in the literature. Findings from the current study further indicate that adolescent and parent perceptions of parental influence may be potential avenues for health promotion interventions targeted toward enhancing health behavior communication between parents and teens and speaks to the importance of continued research in this area. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Nutrition|Health Sciences, Recreation|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Pamela Lea Steadman, "An examination of the relationship between perceived parental involvement and adolescent eating and exercise habits" (2006). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3225331.