Prevalence of parental comments on weight/shape/eating amongst sons and daughters in an adolescent sample

Lucy Dahill*, Deborah Mitchison, Natalie M. V. Morrison, Stephen Touyz, Kay Bussey, Nora Trompeter, Alexandra Lonergan, Phillipa Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Reports suggest that 12–76% of adolescents have experienced parental comments regarding their weight/shape and/or eating behaviours. Parents may engage in conversations about weight/shape and eating out of concern, even without any ill intent; however, the associations of these comments with subsequent problematic psychosocial and eating behaviours are evidenced. Therefore, an in-depth understanding of the content and prevalence of such comments is needed. To date, adolescent-reported prevalence estimates have not included differentiation between mother or father and sons or daughters, nor have they considered eating-focussed comments. This study considered the prevalence of positive and negative parental commentary regarding weight/shape and eating with a focus on parental origin. A total of 2287 Australian male and female adolescents participated via a self-report survey. Adolescents reported frequent positive comments on weight/shape and on eating, most commonly maternal positive comments on weight/shape (78%; 95% CI 77–80). Daughters reported significantly more maternal comments on weight/shape (positive and negative) as well as more negative eating comments from mothers than did sons. Sons reported significantly more negative weight/shape comments from fathers than did daughters. Some negative comments increased significantly with age. These findings support a notable prevalence of reported parental weight/shape and eating comments directed at their offspring, particularly from mothers
Original languageEnglish
Article number158
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • mother
  • father
  • weight talk
  • prevalence
  • adolescents
  • parent–adolescent communication


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