Colby Kipp

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Nicole Zarrett


African American adolescents experience a higher prevalence of obesity than nonminorities with approximately 40% being overweight or obese. Chronic stress, both among parents and adolescents, may be important to consider when assessing the factors that influence adolescent weight status. Baseline data were collected from one hundred forty eight African American adolescents (Mage = 12.93, SD = 1.75; MBMI% = 96.7, SD = 3.90) and their caregivers (Mage = 44.5, SD = 8.6; MBMI = 37.63, SD = 8.21) 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. Both caregivers and adolescents self-reported their perceptions of chronic stress. Weight and height were measured and used to calculate BMI for parents and adolescents at baseline and 16 weeks post-intervention. The current study tested the hypothesis that positive parenting practices (authoritative parenting, parental responsibility, and monitoring) would buffer the negative effects of parent and adolescent perceived stress on adolescent BMI over 16 weeks under high, but not low, stress conditions. Other parenting practices associated with control (concern for child’s weight, restriction and pressure to eat) were predicted to exacerbate the effects of parent and adolescent stress on adolescent BMI. Thus, it was hypothesized that these negative parenting practices would interact with parent and adolescent stress to exacerbate adolescent BMI over 16 weeks under high, but not low, stress conditions. As expected, results indicated that parental pressure to eat exacerbated the relationship between parent perceived stress and adolescent BMI, such that under high perceived stress, higher parental pressure to eat predicted higher adolescent BMI while lower parental pressure to eat predicted lower adolescent BMI. Additionally, it was found that parental monitoring moderated the relationship between adolescent perceived stress and adolescent BMI. The results of this study indicate the moderating effect of various parenting practices on the relationship between parent and adolescent chronic stress and adolescent BMI among African American families. The findings of this study can inform future family health promotion programs that incorporate parenting practices and stress management techniques to target health outcomes of ethnic minority populations in the United States.