Is Adolescent Body Weight Associated With Parental Beliefs About Overweight, Attitudes Towards Food, and the Home Environment?

Dörthe Krömker, Andreas Stolberg, Claudia Müller, Zhe Tian, Alexandr Parlesak


Parents play a crucial role in the development of childhood overweight and also in controling overweight. This study investigated a broad set of parental factors, including general attitudes towards food (price, identity, cooking, ecology, mood, dieting, convenience, functionality), social cognitions concerning overweight (risk perception, self-efficacy for exercising and healthy eating, response efficacy for exercising and healthy eating) and characteristics of the home environment (restriction of snacks, regular family meals, parents involved in sports) and their association with their children’s zBMI, i.e. adolescents between 12-19 years old. In a non-clinical sample of 842 parent-adolescent dyads we found that the zBMI is most strongly and positively associated with parental dieting attitudes and negatively with parents’ self-efficacy to motivate their children to exercise. The zBMI is negatively and weakly associated with dislike of cooking, identification with the way of eating and the perceived benefit of healthy eating (response efficacy). Half of the parents assessed their children’s overweight and obesity correctly, while the other half underestimated it. No difference was found with respect to all investigated variables (general attitudes, social cognitions concerning overweight and home environment) between parents who correctly perceive and those who misperceive their children’s weight status.


dieting, feeding practices, food choice motives, health beliefs, risk perception, restraint eating, social cognitions

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Journal of Food Research   ISSN 1927-0887(Print)   ISSN 1927-0895(Online)

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