This prospective study explored longitudinal, bidirectional associations between eating pathology and perceptions of the parent-child relationship (i.e., parent-child regard and involvement) across adolescence. Specifically, this study examined whether twin differences in mother-daughter and father-daughter relationship problems emerged as a risk factor for, or outcome of, twin differences in eating pathology. By examining twin differences, this study explored associations between variables while controlling for shared environmental and genetic effects. A population-based sample of 446 monozygotic twin girls and their mothers completed questionnaires when twins were approximately 11, 14, and 17 years. Responses were analyzed using longitudinal cross-lagged models. Overall, few strong longitudinal associations were observed. Where longitudinal associations emerged, overall patterns indicated reciprocal associations that shifted across adolescence. Whereas twin differences in parent-daughter relationship variables more often predicted later twin differences in eating pathology across early adolescence, conversely, twin differences in eating pathology more often predicted later twin differences in parent-daughter relationship variables across later adolescence. In particular, the twin who reported greater eating pathology later reported more negative perceptions of the father-daughter relationship, as compared to her co-twin. Findings raise questions for future research regarding parental-in particular, paternal-responses to adolescent eating pathology and suggest the potential importance of efforts to support the parent-daughter relationship within the context of adolescent eating pathology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
LK is now at Alberta Children's Hospital. The authors thank Drs. Irene Elkins, Susan Graham, Thomas O'Neill, Steve Malone, and Naomi Marmorstein for their support of this project. This manuscript is based on LK's doctoral dissertation (Wallace, 2015), completed under the supervision of KvR. The research was supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (LK), the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01AA09367, WI), the National Institute of Mental Health (T32MH15755, SW), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R37DA05147 and R01DA036216, WI; and K01DA037280, SW).
- Disordered eating
- Eating disorders
- MZ twin differences
- Monozygotic twins
- Non-shared environment
- Parent-child relationship