International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

, 8:25

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Familial correlates of adolescent girls' physical activity, television use, dietary intake, weight, and body composition

  • Katherine W BauerAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota Email author 
  • , Dianne Neumark-SztainerAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • , Jayne A FulkersonAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, University of Minnesota
  • , Peter J HannanAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • , Mary StoryAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota



The family environment offers several opportunities through which to improve adolescents' weight and weight-related behaviors. This study aims to examine the cross-sectional relationships between multiple factors in the family environment and physical activity (PA), television use (TV), soft drink intake, fruit and vegetable (FV) intake, body mass index (BMI), and body composition among a sample of sociodemographically-diverse adolescent girls.


Subjects included girls (mean age = 15.7), 71% of whom identified as a racial/ethnic minority, and one of their parents (dyad n = 253). Parents completed surveys assessing factors in the family environment including familial support for adolescents' PA, healthful dietary intake, and limiting TV use; parental modeling of behavior; and resources in the home such as availability of healthful food. Girls' PA and TV use were measured by 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR) and dietary intake by survey measures. BMI was measured by study staff, and body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Hierarchical linear regression models tested individual and mutually-adjusted relationships between family environment factors and girls' outcomes.


In the individual models, positive associations were observed between family support for PA and girls' total PA (p = .011) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (p=.016), home food availability and girls' soft drink (p < .001) and FV (p < .001) intake, and family meal frequency and girls' FV intake (p = .023). Across the individual and mutually-adjusted models, parental modeling of PA, TV, and soft drink and FV intake was consistently associated with girls' behavior.


Helping parents improve their physical activity and dietary intake, as well as reduce time watching television, may be an effective way to promote healthful behaviors and weight among adolescent girls.