School of Public Health
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Purpose There is a paucity of research exploring individuals’ memories of parental dieting behavior, engagement in “fat talk”, or criticism of weight or eating behavior in childhood. This exploratory study utilized a community sample to further characterize the retrospective report of parenting dieting behavior. Methods A total of 507 participants (78.1% females; 20.7% males; and 1.2% transgender) were recruited to participate in an online, self-administered survey. Results Forty percent (216) of participants reported maternal dieting in their family of origin and 34% (182) reported maternal fat talk, 24% (120) reported paternal dieting, and 11% recalled paternal ‘fat talk’ (58). Subgroup analyses suggest that both male and female participants had greater odds of remembering maternal rather than paternal weight or shape criticism and encouragement to diet (OR = 58.1; and OR = 3.12; p < 0.0001 for male and female participants, respectively). Retrospective report of indirect parental behaviors (e.g. parental dieting) also appears to be associated with direct parental behaviors (e.g. encouraging children to diet). Additionally, participants who recalled maternal encouragement to diet reported a significantly higher adult BMI (β = 1.31, SE = 0.32, p < 0.0001). Conclusion Results provide preliminary evidence that a sizeable percentage of both adult male and female participants recalled that their parents engaged in fat talk and dieting. In addition, participants recalled parental criticism of their own weight or eating behaviors, which was associated with recall of parental dieting and fat talk.
Digital Commons Citation
Claydon, Elizabeth A.; Zullig, Keith J.; Lilly, Christa L.; Zerwas, Stephanie C.; Davidov, Danielle M.; Cottrell, Lesley; and White, Marney A., "An exploratory study on the intergenerational transmission of obesity and dieting proneness" (2019). Clinical and Translational Science Institute. 19.
Claydon EA, Zullig KJ, Lilly CL, et al. An exploratory study on the intergenerational transmission of obesity and dieting proneness. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 2018;24(1):97-105. doi:10.1007/s40519-018-0478-1