Obesity-related parenting practices, styles, and family functioning: A natural experiment comparing pandemic and nonpandemic data.

Publication date: Feb 29, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial changes to family life. This study examined associations between pandemic conditions and mothers’ and fathers’ food, physical activity, and media parenting practices and whether these associations were moderated by parenting styles and family functioning. Two independent samples of Canadian parents (nonpandemic n = 270; pandemic n = 357) self-reported their obesity-related parenting practices, styles, and family functioning. Covariate-adjusted regression models compared parenting practices between the samples. Interactions tested the moderating effects of family functioning and parenting styles on mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices separately. Compared to nonpandemic mothers, pandemic mothers reported more frequent family meals, more screen time negotiation, and lower modeling of healthy screen time. Both pandemic mothers and fathers reported lower physical activity facilitation than nonpandemic parents. Parenting styles moderated some of these associations; for example, pandemic authoritative parents used less physical activity monitoring (mothers) and screen time negotiation (fathers) as opposed to uninvolved and permissive parents who reported higher use of these practices. The association between pandemic and parenting practices was also moderated by family functioning, especially among fathers. Among high-functioning families, pandemic fathers reported greater engagement in food monitoring, emotional feeding, coercive feeding, healthy screen time modeling, and emotional compensation with screens than nonpandemic fathers and low-functioning family fathers. Pandemic conditions may have negatively affected obesity-related parenting practices, but most associations were moderated by the familial context. The extent to which this will have long-lasting effects on adolescents’ health needs to be further explored. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts Keywords
Canadian Fathers
Covid Functioning
Meals Moderated
Mothers Mothers
Obesity Nonpandemic


Type Source Name
disease MESH Obesity
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO time
disease VO Apa

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