Family physical activity and meal practices associated with disordered weight control behaviors in a multiethnic sample of middle-school youth

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Objective: Family practices around weight-related behaviors can shape children's development of disordered weight control behaviors (DWCB), such as vomiting, taking laxatives, or taking diet pills without a prescription. This study examined family meal and physical activity (PA) practices associated with DWCB among a multiethnic sample of youth. Methods: We assessed self-report data on frequency of family sit-down dinners, types of parental involvement in their children's PA, and DWCB are from 15,461 6th to 8th grade girls and boys in 47 middle schools participating in the Massachusetts Healthy Choices Study at baseline (2005). Results: Youth who had family sit-down dinners every day had lower odds of DWCB (girls: odds ratio [OR] 0.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.2-0.5; boys: OR 0.6; 95% CI 0.4-0.9) than youth who never had family sit-down dinners. Similar effect estimates were found for youth who had family sit-down dinners most days. Parental provision of rides to and from a PA event was also found to be protective against DWCB among girls (OR 0.7; 95% CI 0.5-0.9). In contrast, parental participation in PA with their children was associated with increased risk for DWCB (girls: OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0-1.8; boys: OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.4-2.4). These associations did not differ by race/ethnicity or weight status. Conclusions: Programs emphasizing the importance of family meals may be beneficial in preventing DWCB in youth of all ethnicities. Further research is needed on how various methods of parental involvement in their children's PA are associated with DWCB. Copyright © 2013 by Academic Pediatric Association.

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Academic Pediatrics