Haylee Loncar

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Dawn Wilson


Previous literature has demonstrated relationships between parenting factors and child health. However, few studies have investigated such associations in African American and adolescent samples. The proposed study aimed to investigate the relationships between parenting factors (parenting style and parental feeding practices), and adolescent self-efficacy for diet, and adolescent body mass index (BMI) in African American families. Baseline data were collected from 241 African American parent- adolescent dyads enrolled in the Families Improving Together (FIT) for Weight Loss trial. Adolescents self-reported their perceptions of their caregiver’s parenting style and feeding practices, as well as perceptions of their own self-efficacy for diet. Weight and height were objectively measured and used to calculate BMI for parents and adolescents. Based on Family Systems Theory and Social Cognitive Theory, it was hypothesized that autonomy-supportive parenting (authoritative parenting and parental feeding responsibility) would be associated with lower adolescent BMI, where controlling parenting practices (parental feeding restriction and parental concerns about adolescents’ eating and weight) would be associated with higher adolescent BMI. In addition, based on past literature is was anticipated that autonomy-supportive parenting practices (authoritative parenting and parental feeding responsibility) would be related to greater adolescent self-efficacy for diet, while controlling parental feeding practices (restriction and monitoring of adolescent diet, concern for adolescent weight, and pressure-to-eat at mealtimes) would be associated with lower adolescent self-efficacy to eat healthfully. In support of hypotheses, results indicated that authoritative parenting was associated with lower adolescent zBMI and positively associated with adolescent self-efficacy for diet. As expected, parental concern was positively associated with greater adolescent zBMI. However, findings regarding parent monitoring and restriction were more complex. Parental monitoring was shown to be positive for youth, where parental restriction was associated with lower adolescent self-efficacy for diet. The results of this study emphasize the importance of the parent-adolescent relationship in adolescent weight- related outcomes. In addition, they highlight the potential benefits of autonomy- supportive parenting across cultures.