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The influence of parenting style on health related behavior of children: findings from the ChiBS study

Nele Philips1, Isabelle Sioen12*, Nathalie Michels1, Ester Sleddens3 and Stefaan De Henauw14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, UZ 2 Blok A, De Pintelaan 185, Ghent, B-9000, Belgium

2 FWO, Research Foundation Flanders, Brussels, Belgium

3 Department of Health Promotion, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Department of Health Sciences, Vesalius, University College Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:95  doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0095-y

Published: 23 July 2014



Exploring associations between parenting behavior and children’s health related behavior including physical activity, sedentary behavior, diet and sleep.


We recruited 288 parents and their children (6-12y old). Children’s weight and height were measured. Fat percentage was determined by air displacement plethysmography. Parents reported socio-demographic data, sleep information, physical activity and sedentary behavior of their child and completed the Comprehensive General Parenting Questionnaire (CGPQ) and a Food Frequency Questionnaire. Children completed the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire. Associations between parenting behavior (CGPQ) and children’s health related behavior were assessed with univariate and multiple regression analyses.


A small positive correlation was found between sweet food consumption frequency and “coercive control” (r = 0.139) and a small negative correlation between fruit and vegetables consumption frequency and “overprotection” (r = −0.151). Children consumed more frequently soft drinks when their parents scored lower on “structure” (r = −0.124) and higher on “overprotection” (r = 0.123); for the light soft drinks separately, a small positive correlation with “behavioral control” was found (r = 0.172). A small negative correlation was found between “emotional eating” and “structure” (r = −0.172) as well as “behavioral control” (r = −0.166). “Coercive control” was negatively correlated with the child’s sleep duration (r = −0.171). After correction for confounding factors, the following significant associations were found: (1) a small negative association between “structure” and soft drinks consumption (β = −0.17 for all soft drinks and −0.22 for light soft drinks), (2) a small positive association between “behavioral control” and light soft drinks (β = 0.34), (3) a small positive association of “nurturance” and “coercive control” with sedentary behavior (β = 0.16 for both parent constructs) and (4) a small negative association between the parenting construct “coercive control” and sleep duration (β = −0.23).


The significant but small associations between parenting constructs and the investigated variables suggest that different aspects of parenting style play an important role in the genesis of the health related behavior of children. Overall, our findings suggest that health professionals should encourage parents to apply the more positive parenting constructs i.e., more “structure” and “behavioral control”, and less “coercive control”. They could, for instance, supervise and manage their child’s activities and help their child to achieve certain goals.

Parenting; Health; Soft drinks; Sedentary behavior; Sleep