Sex Roles

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 169–187 | Cite as

Relationships Among Adolescent Girls' Eating Behaviors and Their Parents' Weight-Related Attitudes and Behaviors

  • Eleanor H. Wertheim
  • Virginia Mee
  • Susan J. Paxton


This article examines adolescent girls' weightloss behaviors and possible parent influences related toweight and shape. Questionnaires were completed by 369grade 10 girls and their parents. Findings suggested that parent encouragement to loseweight was a more significant predictor of daughterdietary restraint than parents' own dietary restraintlevels. Mother influence variables added significantly to a regression equation after fatherinfluences had been entered, but the reverse was not thecase. Parents' food abstaining behaviors, such asfasting and skipping meals, predicted food abstaining in daughters. Most findings were replicated whendaughter body size was controlled for. Implications formodels of the transmission of diet and weight-relatedvalues from parent to child are discussed.


Body Size Social Psychology Eating Behavior Adolescent Girl Influence Variable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Attie, I., & Brooks-Gunn, J. B. (1989). Development of eating problems in adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 25, 70–79.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1990). ASCO: Occup ation definitions (1st ed.). Canberra: Grills.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1993). Melbourne social atlas: Census of population and housing (6 August, 1991), Canberra: Pirie.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Temperament Project. (1995). Sharing problems with others. Australian Temperament Project 1995 Newsle tter, I.Google Scholar
  6. Banasiak, S. (1995). Maladaptive eating attitudes and behaviours and their correlates among Italian-Australian and Anglo-Australian adolescent females. Master's thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora (Melbourne ), Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Benedikt, R., Wertheim, E. H., & Love, A. (1998). Eating attitudes and weight loss attempts in female adolescents and their mothers. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 43–57.Google Scholar
  8. Fallon, A. E., & Rozin, P. (1985). Sex differences in perception of desirable shape. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 102–105.Google Scholar
  9. Garner, D.M. (1991). Eating disorder inventory—2.Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  10. Garner, D. M., Garfinkel, P. E., Schwartz, D., & Thompson, M. (1980). Cultural expectations of thinness in women. Psycho logical Reports, 47, 483–491.Google Scholar
  11. Hill, A. J., & Franklin, J. A. (1998). Mothers, daughters and dieting: Investigating the transmission of weight control. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 37, 3–13.Google Scholar
  12. Hill, A. J., Weaver, C., & Blundell, J. E. (1990). Dieting concerns of 10-year-old girls and their mothers. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 29, 346–348.Google Scholar
  13. Kanakis, D. M., & Thelen, M. H. (1995). Parental variables associated with bulimia nervosa. Addictive Behaviors, 20, 491–500.Google Scholar
  14. Keel, P. K., Heatherton, T. F., Harnde n, J. L., & Hornig, C. D. (1997). Mothers, fathers and daughters: Dieting and disordered eating. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 5, 216–228.Google Scholar
  15. Keys, A., Fidanza, F., Karvonen, M. J., Kimura, N., & Taylor, H. L. (1972). Indices of re lative weight and obesity. Journal of Chronic Disease, 25, 329.Google Scholar
  16. Kilbourne, J. (1994). Still killing us softly: Advertising and the obession with thinness. In P. Fallon, M. A. Katzman, & S. C. Wooley (Eds.), Feminist perspectives on eating disorders (pp. 395–418), New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  17. Laessle, R. G., Tuschl, R. J., Kotthaus, B. C., & Pirke, K. M. (1989). A comparison of the validity of three scales for the assessment of dietary restraint. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 98, 504–507.Google Scholar
  18. Levine, M. P., & Smolak, L. (1992). Toward a model of the developmental psychopathology of eating disorders: The example of early adolescence. In J. H. Crowther, D. L. Tennenbaum, S. E. Hobfoll, & M. A. P. Stephens (Eds.), The etiology of bulimia nervosa: The individual and familial context (pp. 59–80). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  19. Levine, M. P., Smolak, L., & Hayden, H. (1994). The relation of sociocultural factors to e ating attitudes and behaviors among middle school girls. Journal of Early Adolescence, 14, 471–490.Google Scholar
  20. Maude, D., Wertheim, E. H., Paxton, S., Gibbons, K., & Szmukler, G. I. (1993). Body dissatisfaction, weight loss behaviours, and bulimic tendencies in Australian adolescents with an estimate of female data representativeness. Australian Psychologist, 28, 128–132.Google Scholar
  21. Moreno, A., & Thelen, H. (1993). Parental factors related to bulimia nervosa. Addictive Behaviors, 18, 681–689.Google Scholar
  22. O'Dea, J. A. (1995). Body image and nutritional status among adolescents and adults: A re view of the literature. Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 52, 56–67.Google Scholar
  23. Ohzeki, T., Ohtahara, H., Hanaki, K., Urashima, H., Tsukuda, T., Tanaka, Y., & Shiraki, K. (1996). Maternal perception of children's weight in relation to eating disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 94, 279–280.Google Scholar
  24. Paxton, S. J., Wertheim, E. H., Gibbons, K., Szmukler, G. I., Hillier, L., & Petrovich, J. L. (1991). Body image satisfaction, dieting beliefs and weight loss behaviors in adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 361–379.Google Scholar
  25. Pendley, J. S., & Bates, J. E. (1996). Mother/daughter agreement on the eating attitudes test and the e ating disorder inventory. Journal of Early Adolescence, 16, 179–191.Google Scholar
  26. Pike, K. M. (1995). Bulimic symptomatology in high school girls: Toward a model of cumulative risk. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 373–396.Google Scholar
  27. Pike, K.M., & Rodin, J. (1991).Mother, daughters, and disordered eating. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 198–204.Google Scholar
  28. Rothblum, E. D. (1994). ``Ill die for the revolution but don't ask me not to die”: Feminism and the continuing stigmatization of obesity. In P. Fallon, M. A. Katzman, & S. C. Wooley (Eds.), Feminist perspectives on eating disorders (pp. 53–76), New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  29. Ruther, N. M.,& Richman, C. L. (1993). The relationship between mothers' eating restraint and their children's attitudes and behaviors. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 31, 217–220.Google Scholar
  30. Schoemaker, C., Van Strien, T., & van der Staak, C. (1994). Validation of the Eating Disorders Inventory in a nonclinical population using transformed and untransformed responses. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15, 387–393.Google Scholar
  31. Silverstein, B., Perdue, L., Peterson, B., & Kelly, E. (1986). The role of the mass media in promoting a thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women. Sex Roles, 14, 519–532.Google Scholar
  32. Striegel-Moore, R. H., & Kearney-Cooke, A. (1994). Exploring parents' attitudes and behaviors about their children's physical appearance. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 4, 377–385.Google Scholar
  33. Stunkard, A. J., Sorenson, T. I. A., & Schulsinger, F. (1980). Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. In S. Kety (Ed.), The genetics of neurological and psychiatric disorders (pp. 115–120). New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  34. Thelen, M. H., & Cormier, J. F. (1995). Desire to be thinner and weight control among children and their parents. Behavior Therapy, 26, 85–99.Google Scholar
  35. Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L. J., Altabe, M., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (1999). Exacting beauty: Theory, assessment, and treatment of body image disturbance. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  36. Tiggemann, M., & Pennington, B. (1990). The development of gender difference s in body size dissatisfaction. Australian Psychologist, 25, 306–313.Google Scholar
  37. Van Strien, T., Frijters, J. E. R., Bergers, G. P. A. & Defares, P. B. (1986). The Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ) for assessment of restrained, emotional, and external eating behavior. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 5, 295–315.Google Scholar
  38. Wardle, J., & Beales, S. (1986). Restraint, body image, and food attitudes in children from 12 to 18 years. Appetite, 7, 209–217.Google Scholar
  39. Wertheim, E. H., Martin, G., Prior, M., Sanson, A., & Smart, D. (in press). Parent influences in the transmission of eating and weight related values and behaviors. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.Google Scholar
  40. Wertheim, E. H., Paxton, S. J., Maude, D., Szmukler, G. I., Gibbons, K., & Hillier, L. (1992). Psychosocial predictors of weight loss behaviors and binge eating in adolescent girls and boys. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 12, 151–160.Google Scholar
  41. Wolf, N. (1990). The beauty myth. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  42. Wooley, S. C. (1995). Feminist influences on the treatment of eating disorders. In K. D. Brownell & C. G. Fairburn (Eds.), Eating disorders and obesity: A comprehensive handbook (pp. 294–298). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  43. Worsley, A., Worsley, A. J., McCommon, S., & Silva. (1990). The weight control practice s of 15 year old New Zealanders. Paediatric Child Health, 26, 41–45.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleanor H. Wertheim
  • Virginia Mee
  • Susan J. Paxton

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations