The importance of the family environment for children’s and adolescents’ health behavior has been demonstrated, the underlying mechanisms of this influence remain unclear. Therefore, the aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between family environmental and individual determinants. It was hypothesized that the Family Health Climate (FHC) is associated with adolescents’ physical activity and dietary behavior and that intrinsic motivation mediates this association.
Cross-sectional data were collected from 198 families (mother, father, and child) using questionnaires. Perceptions of FHC of mothers, fathers, and their children were assessed using the FHC-scales for physical activity (FHC-PA) and nutrition (FHC-NU). The adolescents also rated their intrinsic motivation for exercise and healthy eating, their physical activity and consumption of healthful food. A structural equation model was analyzed and a bootstrapping procedure was used to test direct and indirect effects.
The FHC-PA was related to the amount of weekly physical activity and the FHC-NU to the consumption of fruit, vegetables and salad. These effects were mediated by adolescents’ intrinsic motivation; the indirect effects were significant for both behaviors.
These results emphasize the importance of the FHC in shaping adolescents’ physical activity and dietary behavior. Individual motivational factors are potential mediators of family and parental influences. Considering family-level variables and their interaction with individual factors contributes to the understanding of adolescents’ health behavior.