Do Parents Treat Siblings Similarly or Differently with Regard to Feeding Practices, Weight-Related Conversations, and Support for Physical Activity? An Exploratory Analysis

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Background: It is unknown if parents with more than one adolescent child use similar or different parenting practices of relevance to weight-related health with different children. In particular, it is unclear whether parenting practices differ based on whether siblings are discordant on weight status (i.e., one is overweight/obese, one is nonoverweight/obese) or are different sexes. Methods: Data from two linked population-based studies, Eating and Activity in Teens (EAT) 2010 and Families and Eating and Activity in Teens (F-EAT), were used in this exploratory cross-sectional analysis. Participants included socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse parents (n = 57; 93% females) and adolescent siblings (n = 57 pairs; 60% girls; mean age = 14.5, range = 11-18). Students filled out surveys and had anthropometric measures taken in school. Parents filled out mailed surveys in their homes. Results: Overall, results from this exploratory study showed limited evidence that parents use different parenting practices with adolescents of different weight status or sex. However, potentially important patterns emerged when exploring parenting practices and siblings' weight status. For example, within sibling dyads with discordant weight status, parents reported significantly more negative weight-related conversations with overweight/obese siblings compared to nonoverweight/obese siblings (p < 0.05). Although observed differences were not statistically significant, parents also reported higher levels of food restriction (p = 0.05) and encouragement to diet (p = 0.07) with overweight/obese siblings compared to nonoverweight/obese siblings. There were no significant differences in parenting practices by adolescent sex. Conclusions: Results generally suggest that parents use similar parenting practices with adolescent siblings. However, notable patterns emerged when examining parenting practices and siblings' weight status that may be important to explore in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


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