Parental encouragement of dieting promotes daughters' early dieting

Katherine N. Balantekin, Jennifer S. Savage, Michele E. Marini, Leann L. Birch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Dieting to lose weight is common among female adolescents. This research investigated the association between maternal and paternal encouragement to diet and their daughters' self-reported "early dieting" (prior to age 11 y) and adolescent dieting (between 11 y and 15 y), and how parental encouragement to diet is related to changes in daughters' BMI percentiles. Participants in this study were 174 non-Hispanic white girls and their parents, assessed when daughters were 9-, 11-, 13-, and 15 y. The Parent Encouragement of Child Weight Loss Scale was used to measure encouragement to diet. Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between parental encouragement to diet and daughters' reports of dieting by 11 y and by 15 y, adjusting for daughters' weight status at baseline. Compared with girls whose mothers didn't encourage dieting, girls who were encouraged to diet were twice as likely to diet by 11 y; girls who were encouraged by their fathers were also twice as likely to diet by 11 y. Girls who were encouraged to diet by both parents were 8 times more likely to report early dieting than girls who were not. Neither maternal nor paternal encouragement predicted the emergence of dieting during adolescence. Girls who dieted and had parental encouragement to do so had increases in BMI percentile from 9 y to 15 y. Findings reveal that parental encouragement to diet may be counterproductive and that parents need alternative approaches to promote healthy patterns of intake and growth among young girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-196
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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