The relationships between parenting styles and motivation orientations, body mass index and nutrition behaviour of UK university students

Pendlebury, M. and Lowe, N. and Westaway, E. and Amirabdollahian, F. (2013) The relationships between parenting styles and motivation orientations, body mass index and nutrition behaviour of UK university students. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 72 (OCE4). ISSN 0029-6651

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The motivational elements of the Self Determination Theory(1) proposes that early exposures to overly controlling, and non-autonomy
supportive parenting styles are maladaptive to offspring’s intrinsic motivation and self-regulation(2). These have also been previously
linked to unhealthy nutrition behaviours and risk of becoming overweight(3). When reaching emerging adulthood (ages 18–25), and
attending university, offspring’s parental control often reduces, whilst challenges for behavioural self-regulation increases(4). It was
previously demonstrated that university students tend to consume excessive amounts of convenience foods and alcohol(5); however,
evidence on relationships between parental autonomy support (AS) and psychological control (PC) in childhood with nutrition behaviour
in young adulthood is scarce and inconclusive(6). The aim of the present study was to investigate how young students’ experiences of
parental AS and PC were related to their present intrinsic motivations (IM), unhealthy nutrition behaviours, and Body Mass Index (BMI).
Participants (n = 71) from two universities, completed two validated parenting style questionnaires as well as a comprehensive lifestyle
survey including present intrinsic motivations. Weight and height were measured and intakes of alcohol, salt, energy, and contribution
of saturated fat (SF) and non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) to overall energy intake were estimated using a 3-day dietary record.
Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used for assessment of the normal distributions and Pearson’s correlations coefficient was used for
exploration of the relationships.
Weak to moderate but significant inverse relationships were recorded between the current IM and BMI, daily intake of salt and
percentage contribution of saturated fat to overall energy intake. Parenting style (especially maternal PC and AS) was found to be
significantly associated with IM and this association was positive between IM and AS, and negative between IM and PC. Maternal PC and
AS were also moderately associated with percentage contribution of SF to overall energy intake and weakly associated with salt intake.
No significant associations were found between IM or parenting styles, neither with the consumption of alcohol nor the contribution of
NMES to overall energy intake.
The current findings suggest that parental PC and AS may have a role in aetiology of unhealthy nutrition behaviour in emerging adulthood
and the influence of these might be through the medium of the IM. It may therefore be of benefit to reduce young children’s exposures to
autonomy obstructing and psychologically controlling parenting styles to enhance IM and self-regulation in later life.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Farzad Amirabdollahian
Date Deposited: 25 May 2016 13:53
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2017 15:04

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