Parental feeding practices and the relationship with parents in female adolescents and young women adults with eating disorders

Published: 26 October 2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/cfy4ntg9w3.1
Maria Gruber,
Daniel König,
Julika Holzhäuser,
Deirdre Maria Castillo,
Victor Blüml,
Rebecca Jahn,
Carmen Leser,
Sonja Werneck-Rohrer,
Harald Werneck


Objective: Perceived parental influence on diet in early adolescence in the context of the parental relationship had previously not been studied in a clinical sample. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible association between eating disorders and characteristics of the relationship with parents and the parental feeding practices in early adolescence. Methods: 21 female adolescents and young adults with an eating disorder (ED) – bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa – and 22 females without eating disorder (healthy control; HC), aged between 16 and 26, were assessed via self-report questionnaires for problematic eating behaviour, relationship with parents, perceptions of parent’s feeding practices at the age of 10 – 13 years and personality. Statistical evaluation was performed by means of group comparisons, effect sizes, regression analyses and mediator analyses. Results: Adolescent and young adult females with ED reported more fears/overprotection and rejection/neglect by their mothers and less self-responsibility in terms of eating behaviour during adolescence than did the HC. The relationship with the fathers did not differ significantly. Females who perceived more cohesion, rejection/neglect and fears/overprotection by the mother were more likely to suffer from an ED. Rejection/neglect by both parents were associated with less self-acceptance of the young females with even stronger effect sizes for the fathers than the mothers. Harm prevention in the young females was a partial mediator between fears/overprotection and the drive for thinness. Conclusions: The parental relationship is partly reflected in the self-acceptance and self-responsibility in eating of the adolescent and young females, both of them are particularly affected in EDs. Stressors in the parent-child relationship should be targeted in treatment of eating disorders. Nutritional counselling for parents might be useful in early adolescence.



Universitat Wien, Medizinische Universitat Wien


Eating Disorders, Questionnaire, Adolescent Eating Disorder, Anorexia in Adolescents, Bulimia in Adolescents, Bulimia, Eating Behavior and Disorders, Disordered Eating