Family, friend, and media factors are associated with patterns of weight-control behavior among adolescent girls

  • Katherine N. BalantekinEmail author
  • Leann L. Birch
  • Jennifer S. Savage
Original Article



To examine the relationship of family, friend, and media factors on weight-control group membership at 15 years separately and in a combined model.


Subjects included 166 15 year girls. Latent class analysis identified four patterns of weight-control behaviors: non-dieters, lifestyle, dieters, and extreme dieters. Family (family functioning, priority of the family meals, maternal/paternal weight-teasing, and mother’s/father’s dieting), friend (weight-teasing and dieting), and media variables (media sensitivity and weekly TV time) were included as predictors of weight-control group membership.


Family functioning and priority of family meals predicted membership in the Extreme Dieters group, and maternal weight-teasing predicted membership in both dieters and extreme dieters. Friend’s dieting and weight-teasing predicted membership in both dieters and extreme dieters. Media sensitivity was significantly associated with membership in lifestyle, dieters, and extreme dieters. In a combined influence model with family, friend, and media factors included, the following remained significantly associated with weight-control group membership: family functioning, friends’ dieting, and media sensitivity.


Family, friends, and the media are three sources of sociocultural influence, which play a role in adolescent girls’ use of patterns of weight-control behaviors; family functioning was a protective factor, whereas friend’s dieting and media sensitivity were risk factors. These findings emphasize the need for multidimensional interventions, addressing risk factors for dieting and use of unhealthy weight-control behaviors at the family, peer, and community (e.g., media) levels.


Dieting Family Friends Media Adolescents 



The authors thank Michele Marini for her statistical assistance. This research was supported by the National Institute of Health HD32973 (L. Birch), United States Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture Grant # 2011-67001-301 Program A2121—Childhood Obesity Prevention: Transdisciplinary Graduate Education and Training in Nutrition and Family Sciences (K. Balantekin), and NHLBI T32 HL00745626.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Research involving human participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Childhood Obesity ResearchThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutritional SciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Foods and NutritionThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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