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Quality of parent-toddler relationship could affect risk for childhood obesity
Date:4/19/2011

ildren were with their mothers. Also explored were a variety of parenting practices related to eating habits and household routines, various measures associated with the mothers' health, and several sociodemographic characteristics.

The addition of each factor had a slight effect on the relationship between attachment security and later obesity. But when all of the factors were included together, there remained a clear association between the security score and later obesity: a 30 percent increased risk for obesity in children who were insecurely attached at age 24 months.

"We adjusted for other variables because they could offer alternative explanations for an association between insecure attachment and obesity, but it is also possible that some of these variables could be part of the causal pathway between attachment security at 24 months and the child's weight status at age 4 ," Anderson said. "Even after adjusting for all of those things, there remained a statistically significant 30 percent increased odds for obesity among the children who were less securely attached."

Looking at only those two variables the attachment security score and obesity the researchers found that insecurely attached toddlers had 48 percent higher odds of being obese at age 4 . The prevalence of obesity was 23.1 percent in children with insecure attachment and 16.6 percent in children with secure attachment, according to the analysis.

Anderson is studying additional ways in which early development might be connected to childhood obesity, and believes the complicated relationship likely has origins in the brain, and particularly areas of the brain that control responses to stress. Those same areas, contained in the limbic system, also control the sleep/wake cycle, hunger and thirst, and a variety of metabolic processes, mostly through the regulation of hormones.

Obesity may be one manifestation of dysregulation in the functioning of the stre
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Contact: Sarah Anderson
sanderson@cph.osu.edu
614-293-4702
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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