Conceptualizing Family Influences on Children's Energy Balance-Related Behaviors: Levels of Interacting Family Environmental Subsystems (The LIFES Framework)

Christina Y. N. Niermann*, Sanne M. P. L. Gerards, Stef P. J. Kremers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Healthy or unhealthy behavioral patterns develop and are maintained in a family context. The importance of the family environment for children's and adolescents' energy balance-related behaviors (EBRBs) has been shown previously. However, the way different family environmental factors are interrelated and interact with personal factors (e.g., motivation) are not well understood. Furthermore, the majority of studies have focused on the parent-child subsystem. However, there are family-level socialization dynamics that affect the development of a healthy lifestyle beyond the impact of parenting behaviors. The current paper aims to synthesize theoretical and empirical literature on different types of family influences. The Levels of Interacting Family Environmental Subsystems (LIFES) framework incorporates family influences on three levels (immediate, proximal, distal) and of three subsystems (individual, parent-child, family), relates them to each other and postulates potential paths of influence on children's EBRBs. Several studies examining specific sections of the framework provide empirical support for LIFES' propositions. Future studies should place their research in the context of the interrelationship of different family environmental influences. A better understanding of the interrelated influences would enhance the understanding of the development and maintenance of overweight and obesity among children and is crucial for the development of effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2714
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Keywords

  • health behavior
  • physical activity
  • eating behavior
  • sedentary behavior
  • family environment
  • family systems
  • parents
  • parental behavior
  • FOOD PARENTING PRACTICES
  • MATERNAL FEEDING PRACTICES
  • PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY
  • DIETARY-INTAKE
  • SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS
  • SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR
  • CHILDHOOD OBESITY
  • ADOLESCENT WEIGHT
  • EATING BEHAVIORS
  • YOUTH

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