The association between maternal serious psychological distress and child obesity at 3 years: a cross-sectional analysis of the UK Millennium Cohort Data

Child: Care, Health, and Development, 04/19/2012

Ramasubramanian L et al. – The results show that maternal serious psychological distress is independently associated with early childhood obesity.


  • A cross-sectional analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study was conducted.
  • Subjects consisted of all natural mothers (n= 10 465) who had complete and plausible data for Kessler-6 scores, socio-demographic and anthropometric variables, and their children for whom anthropometric measurements were completed at age 3.
  • Maternal serious psychological distress was defined as a score of 13 or more on the Kessler-6 scale.
  • Obesity was defined as body mass index >95th centile of the 1990 reference chart for age and sex in children. The data were analysed using spss 16.
  • Maternal socio-demographic factors that are known to influence maternal mental health and child obesity were identified and adjusted using multivariate logistic regression.


  • Of the 10 465 mother–child dyads, 3.5% of mothers had serious psychological distress and 5.5% of children were obese at 3 years of age.
  • Logistic regression analysis showed that maternal serious psychological distress was associated with early childhood obesity (P= 0.01; OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.11, 2.37).
  • After adjusting for potential confounding factors using multivariate logistic regression, maternal serious psychological distress remained significantly associated with early childhood obesity (P= 0.01; OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.08, 2.34).

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