UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Family leadership styles and adolescent dietary and physical activity behaviors: a cross-sectional study Morton, Katie L; Wilson, Alexandra H; Perlmutter, Lisa S; Beauchamp, Mark R

Abstract

Background: Transformational leadership is conceptualized as a set of behaviors designed to inspire, energize and motivate others to achieve higher levels of functioning, and is associated with salient health-related outcomes in organizational settings. Given (a) the similarities that exist between leadership within organizational settings and parenting within families, and (b) the importance of the family environment in the promotion of adolescent health-enhancing behaviors, the purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the cross-sectional relationships between parents’ transformational leadership behaviors and adolescent dietary and physical activity behaviors. Methods 857 adolescents (aged 13–15, mean age = 14.70 yrs) completed measures of transformational parenting behaviors, healthful dietary intake and leisure-time physical activity. Regression analyses were conducted to examine relationships between family transformational leadership and adolescent health outcomes. A further ‘extreme group analysis’ was conducted by clustering families based on quartile splits. A MANCOVA (controlling for child gender) was conducted to examine differences between families displaying (a) HIGH levels of transformational parenting (consistent HIGH TP), (b) LOW levels of transformational parenting (consistent LOW TP), and (c) inconsistent levels of transformational parenting (inconsistent HIGH-LOW TP). Results Results revealed that adolescents’ perceptions of family transformational parenting were associated with both healthy dietary intake and physical activity. Adolescents who perceived their families to display the highest levels of transformational parenting (HIGH TP group) displayed greater healthy eating and physical activity behaviors than adolescents who perceived their families to display the lowest levels of transformational parenting behaviors (LOW TP group). Adolescents who perceived their families to display inconsistent levels of transformational parenting behaviors (HIGH-LOW TP group) displayed the same levels of healthy eating behaviors as those adolescents from the LOW TP group. For physical activity behaviors, adolescents who perceived their families to display inconsistent levels of transformational parenting behaviors (HIGH-LOW TP group) did not differ in terms of physical activity than those in either the HIGH TP or LOW TP group. Conclusions Family transformational parenting behaviors were positively associated with both healthful dietary intake and leisure-time physical activity levels amongst adolescents. The findings suggest that transformational leadership theory is a useful framework for understanding the relationship between family leadership behaviors and adolescent health outcomes.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)