Early mother-child dyadic pathways to childhood obesity risk: A conceptual model

Heidi Bergmeier, Susan J. Paxton, Jeannette Milgrom, Sarah E. Anderson, Louise Baur, Briony Hill, Siew Lim, Rachael Green, Helen Skouteris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the emotional quality of the mother-child dyadic relationship and parent-child feeding interactions may further clarify early developmental pathways to eating behaviours and obesity risk. The quality of parent-child relationships fosters all aspects of child development but has not yet been extensively examined in relation to childhood weight gain. The aim of this paper is to propose a conceptual model, which outlines early mother-child dyadic pathways linking parent-child feeding interactions to child body mass index, where parent-child relationships have a central role. It maps out individual and dyadic mother-child factors (i.e., attachment, child temperament and maternal mental health) that influence the nature and quality of parent-child feeding interactions from infancy to toddlerhood. Our model bridges the gap between research fields by bringing together key maternal and child factors implicated in child development. Understanding early parent-child feeding interactional patterns and their influence on child self-regulation and eating behaviours may be relevant to multidisciplinary approaches toward preventing childhood obesity. High quality quantitative and observational data capturing meaningful parent, child and dyadic level interactions around food contexts, attachment security, maternal mental health, child temperament and self-regulation will help to inform new, aetiologically important, targets for preventative intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104459
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Attachment
  • Early childhood
  • Obesity
  • Parent-child feeding interactions
  • Parenting
  • Self-regulation

Cite this