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Soc Sci Med. 1994 May;38(9):1299-305.

Concordance of parental and adolescent health behaviors.

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  • 1Institute of Community Dentistry University of Oslo, Norway.


This paper reports upon an empirical study of health behaviors in adolescents and their parents. The study aimed at assessing: effects of parental health behaviors on that of their adolescent child; whether mother's and father's health behaviors have additive effects on the respective health behaviors of their child; and whether eventual effects of parental health behaviors decrease with increasing age of the child. The data stemmed from the Norwegian national Health Survey in 1985 and comprised separate interviews with two parents and an adolescent child in 337 families. Results from logistic regression analyses showed that the strongest association found between parental and adolescent health behaviors was for fat intake, and the probability of having a low fat intake was 5 times higher if the mother had a low fat intake than if she did not. With the exception of mother's frequency of exercise, all other parental health behaviors were positively and statistically significantly associated with the corresponding health behavior of their adolescent child. Parental fat intake, smoking behavior and alcohol consumption appeared to have additive effects on the corresponding behaviors of their children. No statistically significant interaction between any of the parental health behaviors and age of the adolescent was found. Hence, the effect of parental health behaviors on that of their adolescent child does not seem to decrease with increasing age of the adolescent. The results are discussed with reference to the functions of modeling.

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