Parenting an Overweight or Obese Teen: Issues and Advice from Parents

Kerri N. Boutelle, Shira Feldman, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: This qualitative study addresses: (1) what challenges parents of overweight adolescents face and (2) what advice parents of overweight adolescents have for other parents. Design: One-on-one interviews were conducted with parents of overweight or previously overweight adolescents. Setting: Medical clinic at the University of Minnesota. Participants: Twenty-seven parents of adolescents (12-19 years) who were either currently or previously overweight recruited from the community. Main Outcome Measures: Qualitative interviews related to parenting overweight adolescents. Analysis: Content analysis was used to identify themes regarding parental experiences. Results: Issues most frequently mentioned were (1) uncertainty regarding effective communication with adolescent about weight-related topics; (2) inability to control adolescents' decisions related to healthful eating and activity behaviors; (3) concern for adolescents' well-being; and (4) parental feeling of responsibility/guilt. Parental advice most often provided included: (1) setting up a healthful home environment; (2) parental role modeling of healthful behaviors; and (3) providing support/encouragement for positive efforts. Conclusions and Implications: Topics for potential intervention development include communication and motivation of adolescents regarding weight-related topics, appropriate autonomy, and addressing negative emotions concerning the adolescent's weight status. Targeting these topics could potentially improve acceptability and outcomes for treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-506
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a grant from the University of Minnesota Children's Vikings Fund (KNB) .


  • Adolescence
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Parenting


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