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Distressed mothers linked to child obesity

Thursday September 10th, 2009

New research has found a link between psychological distress in mothers and obesity in their children.

A team from Liverpool University, UK, examined the link using figures from the Millennium Cohort Study which included nearly 19,000 babies born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002.

The team, led by Dr Lakshmiprabha Ramasubramanian, found that almost a fifth (18 per cent) of the children were overweight at the age of three, and a further five per cent were obese. Among the mothers, almost four per cent scored highly on a scale which measures psychological distress, called the Kessler 6 scale.

When the team analysed the figures they found that mothers with "serious psychological distress", which included low mood and anxiety, were significantly more likely to have children who were overweight or obese.

"Our results suggest that maternal psychological distress is associated with a higher likelihood of early childhood obesity and may increase the risk of children being overweight at the age of three," said Dr Ramasubramanian.

But he pointed out that the study has limitations, and there could be other important factors.

However, he added: "It is clear that more needs to be done to investigate the many factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Further studies are needed to address factors that may be modifiable to be able to address the rising trend in childhood obesity.

Findings were presented yesterday at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting held in Dublin.

Study presented at the annual meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dublin, September 9-11, 2009.

Tags: Child Health | Fitness | Mental Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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