The cross-sectional association of parental psychosocial status with children's Body Mass Index z-score and the mediating role of children's energy balance behaviors - the ABCD Study

PLoS One. 2024 Apr 29;19(4):e0302147. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0302147. eCollection 2024.


Objective: Investigate the cross-sectional association between the psychosocial status of mothers and fathers and the BMI z-scores of their 10 to 12-year-old children. Explore whether this association is mediated by children's diet, physical activity, screen time and sleep. Analyze the moderating effect of the educational levels of both the mother and father on the association.

Design: In a cross-sectional study design, children's height and weight were measured following a standardized protocol. Parents completed the validated Depression Anxiety and Stress questionnaire, while diet quality, sports participation, time spent in bed and screen time were assessed through child-report using previously validated questions.

Participants: The data for this study were obtained from the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study, involving children aged 10 to 12 years and both of their parents (N = 1315).

Results: The majority, 80%, of the parents were highly educated and born in the Netherlands, and 68% of the children had a healthy BMI. Maternal or paternal psychosocial status was not significantly associated with children's BMI z-score (maternal β -0.0037; 95% CI: -0.008 to 0.0007, paternal β 0.0028; 95% CI: -0.007 to 0.002). Screen time mediated the association between paternal psychosocial status and children's BMI z-score (β = 0.010, 95% CI: 0.002; 0.020). Children's diet, physical activity, and sleep did not mediate the association between paternal psychosocial status and children's BMI z-score. Parental educational level was not a moderator.

Conclusions: This research is unique in including four energy balance behaviors and including both mothers and fathers' psychosocial status. Children withfathers experiencing poorer psychosocial status engaged in more screen time which partly explained their higher BMI z-score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Parents / psychology
  • Screen Time
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

This research is part of the Lifestyle Innovations Based on Youth Knowledge and Experience (LIKE) program and is supported by a grant from the Netherlands Cardiovascular Research Initiative: an initiative with support of the Dutch Heart Foundation, ZonMw, CVON2016‐07 LIKE, and Sarphati Amsterdam. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.