Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1015–1028 | Cite as

Social support, loneliness, eating, and activity among parent–adolescent dyads

  • Jessica D. WelchEmail author
  • Erin M. Ellis
  • Paige A. Green
  • Rebecca A. Ferrer


We examined associations of social support and loneliness with eating and activity among parent–adolescent dyads (N = 2968) using actor–partner interdependence modeling. Loneliness had several actor associations with health behaviors (adolescents: less physical activity [PA], p < .001, more sedentariness, p < .001; parents: less fruit/vegetable consumption [FVC], p = .029, more hedonic food consumption [HFC], p = .002, and sedentariness, p < .001), but only one dyadic association (adolescent loneliness with less parent FVC, p = .039). Visible support was associated with less HFC, p < .001, and sedentariness, p < .001, but less FVC, p = .008, among adolescents. Invisible support was associated with less HFC, p = .003, but also less PA, p = .028, among adolescents. Both support types were associated with less HFC among parents, p < .001, but invisible support was also associated with less FVC, p = .029, and PA, p = .012, and more sedentariness, p = .013, among parents. When examining health behavior among parents and adolescents, it may be important to consider social support (but perhaps not loneliness) at a dyadic level.


Social support Loneliness Eating behavior Activity behavior Parent–adolescent relationship Actor–partner interdependence modeling 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Jess Welch, Erin Ellis, Paige Green, and Rebecca Ferrer declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with 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 individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica D. Welch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erin M. Ellis
    • 1
  • Paige A. Green
    • 1
  • Rebecca A. Ferrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch, Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population SciencesNational Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA

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