Interparental conflict and gender moderate the prospective link between parents' perceptions of adolescents' weight and weight concerns

Anna K. Hochgraf, Susan M. McHale, Gregory M. Fosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Parents' comments about their adolescents' weight have been linked with adolescents' disordered eating, but we know little about the personal and contextual conditions that promote or mitigate the effects of parents' perceptions on adolescents' weight concerns. This study examined whether the prospective association between parents' perceptions of adolescents' weight and adolescents' weight concerns differed as a function of exposure to interparental conflict or adolescent gender. Method: Participants were 386 adolescents (52% female; ages 11–18 years; predominately Caucasian/European American) from 197 families (i.e., up to two adolescents per family) and their parents. Two-parent families with a firstborn child in 8th, 9th, or 10th grade and a secondborn child 1–4 years younger were recruited to participate in a short-term longitudinal study of adolescent development and family relationships. Annual home interviews were conducted with adolescents and parents. Multilevel models tested whether parents' perceptions of adolescents' weight predicted adolescents' weight concerns one year later and whether interparental conflict and youth gender moderated this prospective association. Results: A significant three-way interaction revealed that when interparental conflict was low, increases in fathers' but not mothers' perceptions of daughters' overweight predicted increases in daughters' weight concerns the following year. In contrast, females exposed to high interparental conflict reported elevated weight concerns the following year regardless of parents' perceptions. Results for males were not significant. Discussion: Findings highlight the role of personal and family context characteristics in the development of weight concerns and the value of addressing family processes within preventive interventions for adolescent females' weight concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)904-913
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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