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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2009 Oct-Dec;21(4):457-83.

A review of familial correlates of child and adolescent obesity: what has the 21st century taught us so far?

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Building, 516 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


With the rising prevalence rates of child and adolescent obesity over the last several decades, it is important to examine the extant research to inform future research.


The aim of this paper was to review and critique research investigating familial correlates of child and adolescent obesity in the last decade.


A literature review was conducted between March 2008 and December 2008. Studies published after 2000 that assessed familial associations with child and adolescent obesity in the parental, family functioning, and sibling domains were included in the review. A total of 80 studies met the inclusion criteria.


The majority of studies focused on the parental domain. Substantial evidence indicates an association between authoritative parenting style and child/adolescent lower BMI, healthy dietary intake, and physical activity. Also, research on family meals has consistently shown an association between the frequency of family meals and child/adolescent lower BMI and healthy dietary intake.


To date, preliminary evidence suggests that familial factors are associated with child and adolescent obesity, dietary intake, physical activity, and weight control behaviors, but most of the evidence is cross-sectional and there are limitations to the research. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

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