Immediate Influence

Health maintenance, hygiene, provision of healthy food

Parent construct: Caring parents

Parents are important gatekeepers for health, hygiene, and the provision of healthy food. This is especially true for younger adolescents who are more dependent on parents for transportation and monetary needs. Access to medical care is usually negotiated through the parent and parents should help adolescents to establish good hygiene habits (e.g., proper dental care and overall hygiene) early in life. Parents should also strive always to keep healthy food available in the home, as youth who have access to healthy food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.1 Additionally, parents should encourage daily breakfast consumption as this has been related to a decreased risk of obesity as well as a better overall diet, and may also improve memory and attention leading to better academic outcomes.2

Another important area where parents may influence their child’s overall health is sleep. Adolescents typically do not get enough sleep, this is especially true during the school week.3 4 As adolescents get age sleep may become even more problematic as older adolescents tend to stay up later at night and sleep later in the morning than do pre-adolescents.5 6 While older adolescents may make up for sleep loss on the weekends, this may not be enough. Several negative outcomes such as academic problems and increased risk for substance use and depression can result from inadequate sleep or widely varying patterns in sleep from the weekday to the weekend.6 7 8 9

Related Interventions




  1. Pearson, N., Biddle, S. J., & Gorely, T. (2009). Family correlates of fruit and vegetable consumption in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition, 12(2), 267-283.  

  2. Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760; quiz 761-742.  

  3. Carskadon, M. A. (1999). When worlds collide - adolescent need for sleep versus societal demands. Phi Delta Kappan, 8(5), 348-353.  

  4. Strauch, I., & Meier, B. (1988). Sleep Need in Adolescents: A Longitudinal Approach. Sleep, 11(4), 378-386.  

  5. Carskadon, M. A., Vieira, C., & Acebo, C. (1993). Association between puberty and delayed phase preference. Sleep, 16(3), 258-262.  

  6. Wolfson, A. R., & Carskadon, M. A. (1998). Sleep schedules and daytime functioning in adolescents. Child Development, 69(4), 875-887.  

  7. Fredriksen, K., Rhodes, J., Reddy, R., & Way, N. (2004). Sleepless in Chicago: tracking the effects of adolescent sleep loss during the middle school years. Child Dev, 75(1), 84-95.  

  8. O'Brien, E. M., & Mindell, J. A. (2005). Sleep and risk-taking behavior in adolescents. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 3(3), 113-133.  

  9. Pasch, K. E., Laska, M. N., Lytle, L. A., & Moe, S. G. (2010). Adolescent sleep, risk behaviors, and depressive symptoms: are they linked? American Journal of Health Behavior, 34(2), 237-248.