Early Nonfood Parent-Infant Interactions and Development of Obesity in a High-Risk, Diverse Sample

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Nov;27(11):1754-1760. doi: 10.1002/oby.22649.


Objective: This study aimed to understand the protective role of positive mother-infant interactions in the context of food and nonfood behaviors against obesity risk later in life among a cohort of low-income children at high prenatal risk due to maternal substance use during pregnancy.

Methods: The sample consisted of 216 mother-infant dyads (49% boys) participating in an ongoing longitudinal study. Mother-infant interactions during a feeding episode and a free-play task were measured at child age 1 and 7 months, respectively. Children's length/height and weight were measured at 1, 7, 13, 24, 36, and 48 months of age; at kindergarten age (approximately 60 months); and in second grade (approximately 84 months). BMI growth trajectories were modeled.

Results: No significant associations were found between mother-child feeding interactions and child BMI trajectories. Maternal warmth (95% CI: -0.020 to -0.0005; P = 0.04) and child positive affect (95% CI: -0.020 to -0.002; P = 0.014) during free play were associated with a more normative child BMI trajectory.

Conclusions: Results from this study indicated that high maternal warmth and child positive affect during play, but not feeding interactions, are associated with reduced obesity risk from infancy to middle childhood in the context of high pre- and postnatal risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires