Early child social-emotional problems and child obesity: Exploring the protective role of a primary care-based general parenting intervention

Rachel S. Gross, Rahil D. Briggs, Rebecca S. Hershberg, Ellen J. Silver, Nerissa K. Velazco, Nicole R. Hauser, Andrew D. Racine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether early social-emotional problems are associated with child feeding practices, maternal-child feeding styles, and child obesity at age 5 years, in the context of a primary care-based brief general parenting intervention led by an integrated behavioral health specialist to offer developmental monitoring, on-site intervention, and/or referrals. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of mothers with 5-year-old children previously screened using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE) during the first 3 years of life. ASQ:SE scores were dichotomized "not at risk" versus "at risk." "At risk" subjects were further classified as participating or not participating in the intervention. Regression analyses were performed to determine relationships between social-emotional problems and feeding practices, feeding styles, and weight status at age 5 years based on participation, controlling for potential confounders and using "not at risk" as a reference group. Results: Compared with children "not at risk," children "at risk-no participation" were more likely to be obese at age 5 years (adjusted odds ratio, 3.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 9.45). Their mothers were less likely to exhibit restriction and limit setting and more likely to pressure to eat than mothers in the "not at risk" group. Children "at risk-participation" did not demonstrate differences in weight status compared with children "not at risk." Conclusion: Early social-emotional problems, unmitigated by intervention, were related to several feeding styles and to obesity at age 5 years. Further study is needed to understand how a general parenting intervention may be protective against obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-604
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015


  • Child
  • Feeding
  • Integrated behavioral health
  • Obesity
  • Social-emotional problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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