Dual Versus Single Parental Households and Differences in Maternal Mental Health and Child’s Overweight/Obesity
Objectives Mothers report higher levels of psychological stress than fathers. s. Psychological stress is posited to influence parenting practices that could increase children’s obesity risk. However, previous studies have not investigated several aspects of maternal mental health and the moderating role of household structure on children’s obesity risk. The objective was to investigate associations of maternal mental health with child obesity risk, and whether these associations differed by household structure (single-parent vs. dual parent/multigenerational). Methods Mothers and their 8–12 year old children (N = 175 dyads) completed baseline questionnaires on mothers’ mental health and child anthropometrics. Separate logistic regressions assessed associations of standardized maternal mental health indicators with the odds of child overweight/obesity, controlling for child age, and women’s BMI, age, education, employment status, and annual income. Household structure was investigated as a moderator of these relationships.Results There were no statistically significant relationships between maternal mental health characteristics and odds of child overweight/obesity. Among single mothers only, greater anxiety was associated with higher risk of child overweight/obesity [OR (95% CI) = 3.67 (1.27–10.62); p = 0.0163]; and greater life satisfaction was marginally associated with lower risk of child overweight/obesity [OR (95% CI) = 0.44 (0.19–1.01); p = 0.0522]. Mothers’ life satisfaction may lower risk for their children’s overweight/obesity, whereas higher anxiety may increase this risk, particularly among children living in single-mother households. Conclusions for Practice Future interventions could increase resources for single mothers to buffer the effects of stress and lower pediatric obesity risk.
KeywordsStress Pediatrics Parents Demography Obesity
The authors wish to thank the MATCH participants. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01HL119255) and the American Cancer Society (118283-MRSGT-10-012-01-CPPB).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
- Association, A. P. (2008). Stress in America. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2008/10/stress-in-america.pdf.
- Cohen, S. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. S. S. Oskamp (Ed.), The social psychology of health (pp. 31–67). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Dunton, G. F., Liao, Y., Dzubur, E., Leventhal, A. M., Huh, J., Gruenewald, T., … Intille, S. (2015). Investigating within-day and longitudinal effects of maternal stress on children’s physical activity, dietary intake, and body composition: Protocol for the MATCH study. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 43, 142–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2015.05.007.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Koskinen, J., Magnussen, C. G., Sabin, M. A., Kahonen, M., Hutri-Kahonen, N., Laitinen, T., … Juonala, M. (2014). Youth overweight and metabolic disturbances in predicting carotid intima-media thickness, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in adulthood: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study. Diabetes Care, 37(7), 1870–1877. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc14-0008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kuczmarski, R. J., Ogden, C. L., Grummer-Strawn, L. M., Flegal, K. M., Guo, S. S., Wei, R., … Johnson, C. L. (2000). CDC growth charts: United States. Advance Data(314), 1–27.Google Scholar
- McKinney, C. O. (2015). Early childhood overweight and obesity in multigenerational households. GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 2(1), 2.Google Scholar
- Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., & Flegal, K. M. (2015). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011–2014. NCHS Data Brief(219), 1–8.Google Scholar
- Rosenberg, M. (1965). Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSE). Acceptance and commitment therapy. Measures Package, 61, 52.Google Scholar