Family systems and obesity: A review of key concepts and influences within and between family subsystems and a call for family-informed interventions

Josh R. Novak, Keeley Pratt, Daphne C. Hernandez, Jerica M. Berge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research on the social determinants of obesity describes the importance of family dynamics and how they can influence an individual's weight and weight-related behaviors. These proximal influences include parent–child, couple, and limited research on intergenerational and sibling dynamics. However, familial research is often isolated to one relationship subsystem (i.e., parent–child or couple) and is not integrated into the larger Family Systems Theory (FST) framework. The purpose of this paper is twofold: to present recommendations for future work by expounding on FST concepts for weight management and obesity prevention, and to provide a review of the theoretical and empirical evidence for each family system and subsystem, including (a) the extended family, (b) family environment, (c) couple, (d) parent–child, and (e) sibling, and present methodological and analytical considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-56
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Theory and Review
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was supported by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Hatch program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Council for Family Relations.

Keywords

  • families and health/illness
  • family intervention
  • family systems theory
  • program evaluation
  • social relations across the life course

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