In 2012, it was estimated that more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. There are undoubtedly many factors which may contribute to childhood obesity; a new study suggests that maternal depression may increase the risk of being overweight in low-income children.

Cross-sectional data were collected on 164 low-income, preschool aged children and their mothers living in two Rhode Island cities. Mothers with higher maternal depression scores were less likely to be present when their child eats and less likely to influence their child’s eating behaviors. While maternal depression alone did not specifically increase the risk of child overweight, maternal depression was associated with certain behaviors that may promote child overweight. Specifically, lower maternal presence when the child ate was significantly associated with higher child BMI scores.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

McCurdy K, Gorman KS, Kissler T, Metallinos-Katsaras E. Associations between family food behaviors, maternal depression, and child weight among low-income children. Appetite 2014 April 21 (epub ahead of print).