Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3236–3246 | Cite as

Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Maternal and Family Factors

  • Lisa Y. Gibson
  • Karina L. Allen
  • Susan M. Byrne
  • Kim Clark
  • Eve Blair
  • Elizabeth Davis
  • Stephen R. Zubrick
Original Paper


Treatment programs for childhood overweight and obesity have highlighted the importance of the family in treatment. Considering this, it is surprising that few studies have examined the role of family factors in the development of childhood overweight and obesity. The objective of this study was to examine which family and maternal factors predict increases in weight in boys and girls during middle to late childhood. This study used longitudinal data from the childhood growth and development (GAD) Study. The GAD Study involved 286 healthy weight, overweight and obese children, aged 6–13 years at baseline, who completed baseline, 1-year follow-up and 2-year follow-up assessments. Overweight/obese children were recruited from clinical and community settings. A broad range of maternal and family factors were assessed. Linear mixed models were used to identify which factors predicted child Body Mass Index (BMI) z-scores over time. For community-based children, maternal BMI and single-parent family structure were significant longitudinal predictors of child BMI z-scores. For the clinical participants, low family income was the only significant multivariate predictor of child BMI z-scores. The strong association between child BMI, maternal BMI and family structure confirms the need to target prevention and intervention efforts for childhood overweight and obesity towards families with overweight parents, particularly single-parent families.


Childhood overweight Longitudinal design Family functioning Child Body Mass Index Maternal Body Mass Index 



This research is funded by a WA Health Promotion (Healthway) Project Grant, a WA Health Promotion (Healthway) Research Fellowship, the Health Benefit Fund (HBF), and the Raine Medical Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study protocol was approved by the WA Women’s and Children’s Health Service Ethics Committee.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Y. Gibson
    • 1
  • Karina L. Allen
    • 1
  • Susan M. Byrne
    • 2
  • Kim Clark
    • 1
    • 5
  • Eve Blair
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Davis
    • 3
  • Stephen R. Zubrick
    • 4
  1. 1.Telethon Kids InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Endocrinology and DiabetesPrincess Margaret Hospital for ChildrenPerthAustralia
  4. 4.Telethon Kids Institute, Graduate School of EducationThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  5. 5.School of Medical & Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia

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