Perceived stress and obesity-promoting eating behaviors in adolescence: The role of parent-adolescent conflict.

Introduction: Stress has been consistently related to obesity-promoting eating patterns (i.e., emotional, external, and restrained eating) throughout the life span, including during adolescence. One particularly salient source of stress within adolescence is parent-adolescent conflict. The current study sought to examine whether parent-adolescent conflict is a significant predictor of adolescent obesity-promoting eating patterns, beyond general adolescent stress. Methods: A sample of adolescents (N = 51; 39.2% overweight or obese) completed a study examining stress and eating behaviors. As part of the larger study, adolescents completed measures related to parent-adolescent conflict, general adolescent stress, and obesity-promoting eating patterns. Adolescent height and weight were measured objectively and used to calculate adolescent body mass index (BMI) percentile for age and gender. Results: General adolescent stress predicted all three obesity-promoting eating patterns, emotional, external, and restrained eating, controlling for adolescent BMI percentile. Higher levels of parent-adolescent conflict significantly predicted greater restrained eating, controlling for adolescent BMI percentile and general adolescent stress. Conflict did not predict emotional or external eating patterns. Discussion: Adolescents’ perceptions of parent-adolescent conflict appear to present a unique source of stress, above and beyond general perceived stress, that is, particularly relevant to the experience of restrained eating patterns. These findings provide support for the potential integration of assessment and intervention for parent-adolescent conflict within previously established behavioral weight control interventions to decrease restrained eating behaviors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)