The effect of low parental warmth and low monitoring on disordered eating in mid-adolescence: Findings from the Australian Temperament Project Academic Article uri icon


  • To investigate the interactions between low parental warmth and monitoring at age 13-14 years and disordered eating attitudes and behaviours at age 15-16 years.Data on 1300 (667 females) adolescents and their parents were drawn from The Australian Temperament Project (ATP), a 30 year (15 wave) population based longitudinal study of social-emotional development. Parent participants completed surveys on parenting practices in late childhood, and adolescent participants reported disordered eating using the drive for thinness and bulimia subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) and an additional body dissatisfaction scale. Interaction was examined on the additive scale by estimating super-additive risk; i.e., risk in excess of the sum of individual risks.For boys, neither parental warmth or monitoring, nor their interaction, was related to disordered eating. For girls, low parental warmth (alone) was associated with bulimic behaviours. In contrast, exposure to both low monitoring and warmth was associated with ∼3½-fold, ∼4-fold and ∼5-fold increases in the odds of reporting body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness and bulimia, respectively. For body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness, risk associated with joint exposure exceeded the sum of individual risks, suggesting an additive interaction between parenting styles.Further investment in family-level interventions that focus on promoting parental monitoring behaviour and a warm parent-child relationship remain important strategies for preventing a range of disordered eating behaviours in adolescents.


  • Krug, I
  • King, RM
  • Youssef, GJ
  • Sorabji, A
  • Wertheim, EH
  • Le Grange, D
  • Hughes, EK
  • Letcher, P
  • Olsson, CA

publication date

  • 2016

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