Quality of relationships with parents and friends in adolescence predicts metabolic risk in young adulthood

Katherine B. Ehrlich*, Jennifer A. Sumner, Lindsay Till Hoyt, Thomas W. McDade, Emma K. Adam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: This study was designed to examine whether family and peer relationships in adolescence predict the emergence of metabolic risk factors in young adulthood. Method: Participants from a large, nationally representative cohort study (N = 11,617 for these analyses) reported on their relationship experiences with parents and close friends during adolescence. Fourteen years later, interviewers collected blood samples, as well as anthropometric and blood pressure measurements. Blood samples were analyzed for HbA1c. Results: Ordered logistic regressions revealed that for females, supportive parent-child relationships and close male friendships in adolescence were associated with reduced odds of having elevated metabolic risk markers in young adulthood. These effects remained significant even after controlling for baseline measures of body mass index (BMI) and health and demographic covariates. The protective effects of close relationships were not significant for males, however. Exploratory analyses with 2-parent families revealed that supportive father-child relationships were especially protective for females. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, for females, close and supportive relationships with parents and male friends in adolescence may reduce the risk of metabolic dysregulation in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-904
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Friendships
  • Metabolic risk
  • Parent-adolescent relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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