The longitudinal link between mothers' and adolescents' snacking: The moderating role of television viewing
Abstract A large proportion of adolescents eats too many energy-dense snacks, which is detrimental for their current and future health. To understand how to promote healthy dietary behaviors in adolescents, we need to identify factors that affect their snacking. While previous cross-sectional work has shown mother-child similarities in eating behavior, longitudinal studies are lacking. Hence, the first aim of this study was to examine whether maternal snacking predicted changes in adolescents' snacking over time. A second aim was to examine whether adolescents' television viewing magnified the strength of this longitudinal association. Television viewing may increase the motivation to eat the snacks consumed by mothers later on, for example through food advertisement exposure and mindless eating. To address both aims, 2051 adolescents ( M age baseline = 13.81; 51.5% boys) were asked to report on their snacking and television viewing three times, with intervals of one year. Moreover, a subsample of mothers of adolescents ( N = 1080) reported on their snacking at baseline as well. The results indicate that maternal snacking indeed predicts adolescents' snacking over time and that this effect is more pronounced among adolescents who watch a great amount of television. These findings attest to the importance of mothers in forming adolescents' snacking, not only concurrently but also prospectively. Additionally, this study highlights the relevance of assessing other home environmental factors that may influence maternal effects on their children's snacking.
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