Improving Relational Functioning in Mother-Daughter Dyads With Obesity

Fam Community Health. 2023 Apr-Jun;46(2):103-111. doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000359.


Family-level interventions have the potential to address intergenerational obesity among Mexican American women. Given that poor family functioning is associated with worse weight loss outcomes, this study tested a weight management program aimed at improving relational functioning in mothers and daughters with obesity. Mexican American mothers and their adult daughters were randomly assigned to participate in a 16-week group-based standard behavioral (SB) weight loss program without or with relationship skills training (SRT). Relational functioning was assessed via observational behavioral coding using the Global Structural Family Rating Scale. General relational functioning and specifically positive alliance patterns and conflict avoidance improved significantly more in the SRT group than in the SB group. Average weight changes included percent weight loss of -5.6% in the SRT group versus -3.9% in the SB group and body mass index reduction of -2.2 kg/m2 in the SRT group versus -1.2 kg/m2 in the SB group. More participants in the SRT group (75%) than in the SB group (40%) tended to achieve at least 3% weight loss. Greater changes in positive alliance patterns increased the likelihood of losing 3% of body weight. Improving relational functioning in mother-daughter dyads may promote favorable outcomes in a behavioral weight loss intervention.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers*
  • Nuclear Family*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Weight Loss