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Study: Maternal Depression Could Be Tied To Childhood Obesity

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File photo of a pregnant woman holding her stomach. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

File photo of a pregnant woman holding her stomach. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – The findings of a new study indicate a possible relationship between mothers who suffer from symptoms of depression and children who are obese, especially in low-income families living in urban areas.

The study, titled “Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Child Obesity in Low-Income Urban Families,” was conducted by researchers from the Department of Pediatrics and the Montefiore Medical Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Maternal depressive symptoms are associated with child overweight and obese status and with several obesity-promoting practices,” a published summary of the study states. “These results support the need for maternal depression screening in pediatric obesity prevention programs.”

Information was collected by conducting cross-sectional surveys with mothers of children around 5 years of age who were receiving pediatric care.

“We used regression analyses to examine the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms … and … child weight status, … obesity-promoting feeding practices, including mealtime practices and feeding styles and … activity-related behaviors, including sleep time, screen time, and outdoor playtime,” the study further explained.

A total of 401 sets of mothers and children were involved in the study. Of those, a reported 23.4 percent reported depressive symptoms. Researchers were then able to determine that mothers who said they experienced those symptoms were more likely to have children with weight issues than mothers who did not.

The discrepancy in weight was said to be caused by depressive mothers having a lower likelihood of setting dietary limits and playing outdoors with their children while also setting poor examples for eating habits.

Researchers additionally noted in the study, “Further research should explore how to incorporate needed mental health support.”

There may be hope, however, at least in regards to obesity trends for young children in poor urban areas – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has found that obesity rates among preschool children from low-income families is declining.

“Obesity and extreme obesity among U.S. low-income, preschool-aged children went down for the first time in recent years, according to CDC’s first national study,” the CDC official website states. “From 2003 through 2010, the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly from 15.21 percent to 14.94 percent. Similarly, the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased from 2.22 percent to 2.07 percent.”

The study was published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.

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