Mother's Well-Being Has Large Impact on Child's Health

Medically Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 9, 2001 -- Many experts agree that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic in the U.S., and not just among adults but among children, too. Now, new research is showing that a mother's well-being can greatly affect her child's tendency to be obese.

Researchers at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, found that among 150 low-income mothers of 3- to 5-year olds, those moms who were overweight had children who were much more likely to watch more TV and spend less time outdoors. Television and lack of exercise are felt to be two of the culprits leading to larger waistlines among children.

Researcher Hillary L. Burdette, MD, and colleagues also found that the mothers' psychological health also had a large effect on their child's daily life. Mothers who were depressed or felt stressed were more likely to have children who spent more time in front of the TV and less time outdoors.

Now, how do we use this information to help tackle this problem of obesity? First of all, we have to continue to encourage our children to get away from the TV and play outdoors.

Secondly, a mother battling depression or stress should seek out her doctor's help since this can have bad effects not only on her health but also on her child's well-being, according to the findings of this study.

The research was presented this week at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in Quebec City.