Parental Contributors to the Prevalence and Long-term Health Risks of Family Weight Teasing in Adolescence

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Abstract

Purpose: Weight teasing from family members is common during adolescence. However, little is known about parental factors that increase adolescents' risk for family weight teasing and its adverse health sequelae. Using multi-informant data from adolescents, mothers and fathers, the current longitudinal study examined how parental concerns about their child's weight and their own weight contribute to family weight teasing in adolescence and its long-term health consequences. Methods: Data were collected in the population-based Project EAT 2010–2018 (Eating and Activity over Time) study, following a longitudinal cohort of young people (N = 2,793). Parental weight concerns for their adolescent and themselves were reported by mothers (N = 2,298) and fathers (N = 1,409) at baseline and examined as a predictor of family weight teasing in adolescence as well as a moderator of family weight teasing effects on health eight years later. Results: Mothers' and fathers' concerns about their child's weight, as well as mothers' dieting frequency, increased the likelihood of adolescents experiencing family weight teasing. Longitudinal analyses revealed that adolescents teased about their weight by family had higher levels of stress (β = .21, 95% confidence interval [CI] = .09–.33) and substance use (β = .16, 95% CI = .04–.28), and lower self-esteem (β = −.16, 95% CI = −.28 to −.05) in young adulthood. Conclusions: Findings highlight parent weight concern, particularly concern for their child's weight, as a risk factor for family weight teasing. These findings underscore the importance of encouraging parental attention to health, rather than weight, in family-based treatment and public health initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). Melissa Simone's time was supported by the Award Number T32MH082761 (PI: Scott Crow) from the National Institute of Mental Health . The content is soley the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, or the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). Melissa Simone's time was supported by the Award Number T32MH082761 (PI: Scott Crow) from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content is soley the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Family weight teasing
  • Health risk
  • Parental influence

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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