Parental Pressure to Diet Linked With Long-term Harm in Adolescents

Parent encouragement to lose weight or diet can lead to long-term harmful eating disorders and emotional health problems.

HealthDay News — Exposure to parent encouragement to diet as an adolescent is tied to long-term harmful weight-related and emotional health outcomes and appears to be transmitted to the next generation, according to a study published online in Pediatrics.

Jerica M. Berge, PhD, MPH, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues used data from the longitudinal Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults study to assess associations between exposure to parent encouragement to diet in adolescence and weight-related and emotional health outcomes in adulthood. Surveys and anthropometrics were completed by adolescents in 1998 to 1999 and online in 2015 to 2016 when they were young adults (556 participants; mean age, 31.4 years).

The researchers found that experiencing parent encouragement to diet as an adolescent was significantly associated with a higher risk of overweight or obesity, dieting, binge eating, engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors, and lower body satisfaction 15 years later, even after adjustment for sociodemographics and baseline measures of the outcomes. Intergenerational transmission of encouragement to diet occurred and was tied to parents being more likely to report other weight-focused communication at home.

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“It may be important for health care providers to educate parents about the potential harmful and long-lasting consequences of engaging in encouragement to diet with their children,” the authors write.


Berge JM, Winkler MR, Larson N, Miller J, Haynos AF, Neumark-Sztainer D. Intergenerational transmission of parent encouragement to diet from adolescence into adulthood [published online March 6, 2018]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-2955