Effect of parental mental health status on adolescents' dietary behaviors

L. Joseph Su, Mary Story, S. Susan Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore whether adolescents of substance-abusing and depressed parents were more likely to have poor dietary behaviors than those in the healthy comparison families. Methods: The sample consisted of 841 adolescents in families of substance-abusing parents, depressed parents, and parents without a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. All adolescents were given a food frequency questionnaire. Results: Adolescents whose parents had substance abuse disorder had lower intakes of fruits and higher intakes of high fat foods, and also ate more frequently at fast-food restaurants and purchased more snacks. Adolescents whose parents were depressed had lower intakes of all food groups. Mother's mental health status impacted more on adolescents' dietary behaviors than did the father's mental health status. Conclusion: This research suggests that at-risk behaviors among youth of psychiatrically impaired parents may extend to food behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-433
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent eating behavior
  • Nutrition
  • Parent depression
  • Parent substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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