Relationship between maternal depression symptoms and child weight outcomes in Latino farmworker families

Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Oct;14(4):e12614. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12614. Epub 2018 May 9.


This study sought to characterize depressive symptoms among mothers in Latino farmworker families, determine if maternal depression increases children's risk of obesity, and ascertain whether relevant risk factors such as physical activity, diet, and feeding style mediate this relationship. Mothers from 248 families completed the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale 9 times over a 2-year period. Four distinct patterns were used to describe mothers: few symptoms, moderate episodic symptoms, severe episodic symptoms, and chronic symptoms. Approximately two-thirds of women experienced moderate symptoms of depression at least once. Children of mothers fitting each pattern were compared. At the end of the study, children of mothers with severe episodic and chronic symptoms were significantly more likely to be overweight and obese than children of mothers with few symptoms (p < .05). After controlling for covariates, differences in weight status for children of mothers with severe episodic symptoms remained significant. Children of mothers with either moderate episodic or chronic symptoms were fed in a less responsive fashion (p < .05), and children of chronically symptomatic mothers had lower diet quality (p < .01). Although nonresponsive feeding has been linked to childhood obesity, in this analysis, feeding style did not mediate the relationship between maternal depression and diet quality. Elevated levels of depressive symptoms are common in this population, and those symptoms, especially when severe or chronic in nature, may increase children's risk of obesity. Additional research is needed to characterize the pathways through which maternal depression influences children's weight.

Keywords: Latino farmworker; childhood obesity; depression patterns; feeding style; maternal depression; mediation analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Farmers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Young Adult