Article: Parental Monitoring and Adolescent Weight

September 16, 2019: John FeltDifferent researchers bring a diverse set of research backgrounds and interests to The Methodology Center. Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) Postdoctoral Fellow John Felt has applied his expertise in methods to a broad array of social and health problems. Recently, he worked with a team of researchers from California and Massachusetts to examine whether parental monitoring was related to obesity in adolescence. Their work was published in a recent issue of the journal, Obesity.

Adolescent obesity has been on the rise for decades in The United States. Higher levels of parental monitoring (that is, a parent’s level of awareness about where their children are and what they are doing) has been associated with many positive outcomes. In this study, the authors analyzed data from 4,773 participants of the Healthy Passages cohort study of emerging adolescents in Alabama, Texas, and California to understand the relationship between monitoring and health among adolescents.

The authors found that parental monitoring corresponded with a number of positive factors for adolescents. Regardless of race, higher parental monitoring was associated with higher consumption of healthy foods, lower consumption of unhealthy foods, and lower levels of screen time. Parental monitoring also correlated to lower weight overall. The research suggests that parenting-skills instruction could be a useful addition to youth-obesity interventions.

John performed the analysis on this project. His interest in measurement invariance has enabled him to research many important issues in public health, including racial and ethnic differences in health behaviors related to obesity, the experience of traumatic events, and quality of life. John explained why he thinks measurement invariance is important. “Measurement invariance is a latent variable method that allows us to test whether a given construct is interpreted similarly by different groups. If we do not establish measurement invariance in the groups we are comparing, we cannot rule out differences in measurement from actual meaningful group differences in what we are measuring.”


Read the article. (Journal access required.)



Kim, K. W., Wallander, J. L., Felt, J. M., Elliott, M. N., & Schuster, M. A. (2019). Associations of parental general monitoring with adolescent weight‐related behaviors and weight status. Obesity, 27(2), 280-287.

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