Childhood overweight dependence on mother-child relationship

  • Anne Brødsgaard | Department of Paediatrics, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen University; Nursing Research Unit, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.
  • Lis Wagner Nursing Research Unit, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.
  • Ingrid Poulsen Department of Neuro-rehabilitation, TBI Unit, Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen University, Denmark.


The causes of childhood overweight are numerous and inter-related. The mother-child relationship is of great significance for the child’s health. Previous studies have found patterns of dysfunctional interaction in families with obese children. Therefore, development of childhood overweight could be due to the mother-child relationship. The aim of this study was to investigate how, and to what degree, the mother-child relationship, assessed by the mothers, was related to overweight among children aged seven to nine years. The study was a cross sectional case-controlled one. It included 111 overweight and 149 non-overweight seven to nine year old children and their mothers. Weight status was determined according to the International Obesity Task Force reference for children Body Mass Index, age and gender adjusted. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to categorize the mother-child relationship as: complementary, asymmetrical, symmetrical or symbiotic prototypes. There was no difference in mother-child relationships – characterized by the prototypes – between the overweight and non-overweight mother-child pairs. Therefore, we conclude that the mother-child relationship has no bearing on the child’s weight status according to the prototypes. It is suggested that it is more the culture, or the universal phenomenon of expressing love through food, than the mother-child relationship, which influences the development of childhood overweight, or that the mothers are not capable of assess the true attachment style between themselves and their children.



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Supporting Agencies
Lundbeck Foundation/UCSF, Åse & Ejnar Danielsens Foundation, Nurses Research Foundation, Hvidovre Hospital Research foundation, Rosalie Petersens Foundation, Beckett-Foundation, King Christian X Foundation, Else Poulsens Memorial Award.
childhood overweight, attachment, bonding, mother-child relationship, children
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How to Cite
Brødsgaard, A., Wagner, L., & Poulsen, I. (2014). Childhood overweight dependence on mother-child relationship. Health Psychology Research, 2(2).