Lack of Parental Rules on Eating Linked to Unhealthy Eating Behaviours in Adolescents


In this study by Holubcikova, and colleagues, they found that a lack of parental rules on eating was related to unhealthy eating behaviours in adolescents.

The researchers found that more than 20 % of adolescents reported having no parental rules on eating, and the prevalence of unhealthy eating habits varied between 18 %, for skipping breakfast during weekends, to 75 %, for low consumption of vegetables. A lack of parental rule-setting on eating was strongly associated with unhealthy eating habits among both boys and girls. Several sociodemographic characteristics such as gender, family affluence, family structure, urban context and education of parents were related to unhealthy eating habits of adolescents and to lack of parental rules on eating.


Article Title:

Lack of parental rule-setting on eating is associated with a wide range of adolescent unhealthy eating behaviour both for boys and girls (Open Access)




Jana Holubcikova, Peter Kolarcik, Andrea Madarasova Geckova, Jitse P. van Dijk, and Sijmen A. Reijneveld




P. J. Safarik University, Slovakia, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic, and University of Groningen, Netherlands




The researchers aimed to (a) assess the prevalence (number of cases) of parental rules on eating and the prevalence of a wide range of unhealthy eating behaviours among adolescents, and (b) to explore the associations between a lack of eating-related parental rules and various unhealthy eating habits, such as skipping breakfast, insufficient fruits and vegetables consumption, frequent sweets, soft drinks and energy drinks consumption of adolescents. They also explored the association of sociodemographic characteristics such as gender, family affluence, completeness of family, parental education and urban context with eating related parental rules and eating habits of adolescents.




The researchers noted that there are a lack of studies investigating the wide range of behaviours of adolescents that contribute to the general profile of unhealthy eating among adolescents. Moreover, evidence on correlates of energy drink consumption, which is prevalent among adolescents, is scarce




The researchers analysed the data from a final sample of 2765 adolescents (mean age: 14.38; 50.7 % boys) from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study conducted in 2014 in Slovakia. They obtained information on adolescents’ eating behaviour, eating-related parental rules and socio-demographic characteristics


ScientiFix tip: The researchers highlighted some limitations of their study. As they used a cross-sectional design (data collected from a group of individuals at one specific point of time), they could not draw any causal conclusions. Therefore they could not establish whether a lack of parental eating rules caused poorer eating behaviour. Second, their conclusions were based on data collected using self report measures, which may be influenced by individuals’ social desirability or other intentions. Finally, the researchers did not investigate the possible influence of biological and psycho-social factors on the relationship between parental rule-setting on eating and unhealthy eating of adolescents. These results may also not generalise to adolescents in other geographical areas, where eating norms and behaviours may vary. Future studies should investigate this relationship in adolescents from different geographic regions.


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