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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Everything in moderation : are adolescents' obesity-related health behaviours moderated by parenting styles and family functioning? Carbert, Nicole S.


BACKGROUND: The familial environment can influence an adolescent’s risk for obesity. However, we do not fully understand the mechanisms through which parents can influence obesity-related adolescent health behaviours, specifically whether parenting practices (e.g., rules or routines) and/or their own health behaviours are associated with their adolescent’s behaviours. OBJECTIVES: This study examined, in a sample of overweight/obese adolescents, whether parenting practices and/or parental modeling of health behaviours are associated with adolescents’ health behaviours (physical activity (PA), dietary, sedentary and screen behaviours) while considering the moderating effects of parenting styles and family functioning. METHODS: Baseline data from 172 overweight/obese adolescents and one of their parents who enrolled in a lifestyle modification intervention were analyzed [Mean age=13.1 (1.8); Mean BMI z-score=2.70 (0.83)]. Parent-adolescent dyads completed questionnaires about their PA and screen time, wore an accelerometer for 8 days to objectively measure PA and sedentary time, and completed three 24-hr dietary recalls online. Parents completed questionnaires about their family functioning, parenting practices, and styles (authoritative and permissive). Path analysis was used to model interrelationships among the variables. RESULTS: Both parenting practices and modeling of health behaviours were significantly associated with all adolescent obesity-related health behaviours. However, in many instances, these associations were significantly moderated by parenting styles or family functioning. When both parenting practices and modeling of health behaviours were entered in the analyses, both modeling and parenting practices remained significant for objective PA and sedentary time; however parenting practices and modeling were moderated by parenting style for sedentary time (permissive style; p<.05). For accelerometer PA, styles moderated parenting practices (permissive style; p<.05). Finally, for dietary quality, styles moderated parental modeling (authoritative style; p<.05). The parenting style interactions, however, only partially supported the study hypotheses. CONCLUSIONS: This work suggests that parenting practices and parental modeling are important; however, it is necessary to consider the broader emotional/relational context into which these are expressed since parenting style moderated these effects. This study provides insight into how parenting style may alter the effectiveness of parenting practices and parental modeling and highlights the need to account for parenting styles to improve the efficacy of current family-based interventions.

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