Child temperament and maternal predictors of preschool children's eating and body mass index. A prospective study

Heidi Bergmeier, Helen Skouteris, Sharon Horwood, Merrilyn Hooley, Ben Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Research has previously identified relationships between child temperament and BMI during childhood. However, few studies have addressed the broader implications of child temperament on the development of obesogenic risk factors, such as maternal feeding, child eating and body mass index (BMI) of pre-schoolers. Hence, the current study evaluated cross-sectional and prospective associations between child temperament, maternal feeding, maternal parenting styles, mother-child interaction, preschoolers' eating behaviours and BMI. Child irritability, cooperation-manageability and easy-difficult temperaments, mother-child dysfunctional interaction, maternal pressure to eat and restriction were significantly cross-sectionally associated with child eating behaviours. Child enjoyment of food was significantly associated with child BMI. Child easy-difficult temperament and mother-child dysfunctional interaction predicted child eating behaviours longitudinally and baseline child BMI measures predicted child BMI longitudinally. Average maternal ratings of child temperament were relatively neutral, potentially explaining why most associations were not robust longitudinally. Future research should include a sample of greater socio-economic and BMI diversity as well as objective measures of child temperament, diet composition, maternal feeding practices, and mother-child interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • BMI
  • Child eating behaviour
  • Maternal practices
  • Preschool
  • Prospective study
  • Temperament

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