Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 122–135 | Cite as

Parent-adolescent conversations about eating, physical activity and weight: prevalence across sociodemographic characteristics and associations with adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors

  • Jerica M. Berge
  • Richard F. MacLehose
  • Katie A. Loth
  • Marla E. Eisenberg
  • Jayne A. Fulkerson
  • Dianne Neumark-Sztainer


This paper aims to describe the prevalence of parent-adolescent conversations about eating, physical activity and weight across sociodemographic characteristics and to examine associations with adolescent body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Data from two linked epidemiological studies were used for cross-sectional analysis. Parents (n = 3,424; 62 % females) and adolescents (n = 2,182; 53.2 % girls) were socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse. Fathers reported more parent-adolescent conversations about healthful eating and physical activity with their sons and mothers reported more weight-focused conversations with their daughters. Parents of Hispanic/Latino and Asian/Hmong youth and parents from lower socioeconomic status categories engaged in more conversations about weight and size. Adolescents whose mothers or fathers had weight-focused conversations with them had higher BMI percentiles. Adolescents who had two parents engaging in weight-related conversations had higher BMI percentiles. Healthcare providers may want to talk about the types of weight-related conversations parents are having with their adolescents and emphasize avoiding conversations about weight specifically.


Weight conversations Parents Adolescents Obesity Dietary intake Physical activity 



Research is supported by grant number R03 HD074677 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (CO-PI’s: Berge and MacLehose), R01 HL093247 (PI: Neumark-Sztainer), R01 HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Neumark-Sztainer), and by the Children’s Discovery Fund of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota (Co-PIs: Eisenberg and Neumark-Sztainer). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health. The funding bodies had no role in study design; collection, analysis or interpretation of data; report writing or decisions to submit manuscripts.

Conflict of Interest

Jerica M. Berge, Richard F. MacLehose, Katie A. Loth, Marla E. Eisenberg, Jayne A. Fulkerson and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerica M. Berge
    • 1
  • Richard F. MacLehose
    • 2
  • Katie A. Loth
    • 2
  • Marla E. Eisenberg
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jayne A. Fulkerson
    • 4
  • Dianne Neumark-Sztainer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Division of Epidemiology and Community HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.School of NursingUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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