Parent-child health- and weight-focused conversations: Who is saying what and to whom?

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15 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of health-focused (healthy eating, physical activity) and weight-focused (weight, dieting) parent-child conversations, and to understand who is talking and who is listening, by exploring the associations these conversations have with parent and child characteristics. The study population included 546 parents (age 27–36 years) who participated in Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults)-IV (2015–2016) and had a child aged 2–17 years. Cross-sectional prevalence ratios were calculated to identify associations between parent and child characteristics and the parent-child conversations. Conversations about healthy eating (82%) and physical activity (75%) were more prevalent than those about the child's weight (30%), and dieting (25%). In adjusted models, parents meeting physical activity recommendations had a higher prevalence of health-focused conversations (healthy eating PR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.01, 1.20; physical activity PR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.24); whereas, weight-focused conversations were more common among parents who had recently dieted and perceived their child to be overweight. Health-focused and weight-focused conversations were highly common among the oldest children aged 9–17 years (health-focused = 90–93% and weight-focused = 42–53%); though, a substantial prevalence of health- and weight-focused conversations (>50% and ≥10%, respectively) also occurred with the youngest children (2–4 years). Findings suggest that parent-child health- and weight-focused conversations are common and that characteristics, including child's age and parents' physical activity, dieting, and perceptions of child weight, may be useful to consider in public health messaging, interventions, and family education that address parent-child communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( R01HL116892 [PI: Neumark-Sztainer]) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases ( T32DK083250 [to Winkler as a postdoctoral fellowship; PI: R. Jeffery]). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Children
  • Communication
  • Health behavior
  • Parents
  • Weight conversations


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