Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1007–1017 | Cite as

Parental Attachment and Body Satisfaction in Adolescents

  • Tamás Dömötör Szalai
  • Edit Czeglédi
  • András Vargha
  • Ferenc Grezsa
Original Paper


Insecure attachment can contribute to various psychological problems including body dissatisfaction. It is not clarified which attachment quality, anxiety or avoidance predict lower body satisfaction, and the relationship of maternal and paternal patterns has not been distinguished yet. Our aim was to test these aspects in adolescents. Participants of the large cross-sectional survey were Hungarian children and adolescents (N = 5214, 51.6 % boys, mean age 14.8 years, SD = 2.6 years). Measures included self-reported body weight and height data, body satisfaction scale, the Experience in Close Relationships Scale—Relationship Structures, and the Child Depression Inventory. Boys had significantly higher body satisfaction, and worse maternal attachment than girls, who showed worse paternal attachment and higher depression. Higher paternal anxiety and avoidance, and maternal avoidance predicted lower body satisfaction in both genders adjusted for age and BMI (R 2 = 6.1–12.5 %). Depression fully mediated the relationship between dysfunctional maternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in both genders, between dysfunctional paternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in girls, while only partially mediated between dysfunctional paternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in boys. Dysfunctional parental attachment was associated with adolescents’ lower body dissatisfaction, mediated by the level of depression. The importance of paternal attachment was highlighted in boys’ body concerns. Results suggest that handling negative moods, parental anxiety and avoidance may be useful in the case conceptualizations and treatments related to adolescents’ body dissatisfaction that requires further assessment.


Parental attachment Body satisfaction Depression Preadolescents Adolescents 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Data collection was carried out in the frame of a European Union project (TÁMOP-7.2.1-11/K-2012-0004), implemented by the National Institute of Family and Social Politics. Every part of the paper was written independently from this project. T.D.Sz. was supported by the scholarship of the ÚNKP-16-3 new national excellence program of the Ministry of Human Capacities. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. Ethical approval was given by the Ethical Committee of the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary (96/2015/P).

Informed Consent

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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in HungaryBudapestHungary
  3. 3.National Institute of Family and Social PoliticsBudapestHungary

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