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Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate the maternal and paternal specific contributions on the associations between family socioeconomic status, parental anthropometric factors, parental alliance, and family functioning. These were assessed separately for mothers and fathers, by means of a case-control study with families of Italian youths with and without overweight/obesity.

Methods: Ninety families with children aged 11 to 16 years (mean = 13.27 years; SD = 1.5) participated in the study. Half of the families included children with overweight/obesity (n = 45). The body mass indices (BMIs) of youths and parents were measured and the former transformed in BMI z-scores. The parents completed the Parenting Alliance Measure and the Family Assessment Measure Version III, General Scale.

Results: Higher levels of dysfunction in parental alliance and family functioning of the mothers and fathers of the overweight/obese group were found. Socioeconomic status did not contribute significantly to the prediction of overweight and obesity in youth. Both maternal and paternal BMIs were positively associated with youth overweight/obesity. The degrees of parental alliance perceived by both mothers (odds ratio [OR], 81; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72-0.90) and fathers (OR, 89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.98) predicted child's weight status. The perception of poor parental and familial functioning by both parents contributed to the prediction of overweight and obesity in youth (mother: OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02-1.10; father: OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01-1.11).

Conclusion: The results support a strong effect of parental and family functioning on a youth's overweight/obesity also from the father's perspective. The importance of considering the father's perspective is discussed.

(C) 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins