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Better quality of mother–child interaction at 4 years of age decreases emotional overeating in IUGR girls

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.107
  • Maternal Care
  • Emotional Overeating
  • Appetite
  • Iugr
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine


Abstract Background/Objectives: While most “fetal programming” area focused on metabolic disease, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is also associated with a preference for less healthy food. Post-natal factors such as strained maternal–child interactions are equally related to obesogenic eating behaviors. We investigated if IUGR and the quality of the mother/child relationship affect emotional overeating in children. Subjects/Methods: Participants were 196 children from a prospective birth cohort (the MAVAN project). As part of the protocol at 4 years of age, mothers completed the Children Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ) and mother–child interactions were scored during a structured task. A GLM adjusted for BMI examined the interaction between the “Atmosphere” score (ATM) task, sex and IUGR on the emotional over-eating domain of the CEBQ. Results: There was a significant interaction of BWR vs. sex vs. ATM (P = .02), with no effects of IUGR, sex or ATM. The model was significant for girls with low ATM scores (B = −2.035, P = .014), but not for girls with high (P = 0.94) or boys with high (P = .27) or low (P = .19) ATM scores. Only in IUGR girls, 48 months emotional over-eating correlated with BMI at that age (r = 0.560, P = 0.013) and predicted BMI in the subsequent years (r = 0.654, P = 0.006 at 60 months and r = 0.750, P = 0.005 at 72 months). Conclusions: IUGR and exposure to a negative emotional atmosphere during maternal–child interactions predicted emotional overeating in girls but not in boys. The quality of mother–infant interaction may be an important target for interventions to prevent emotional overeating and overweight in early development, particularly in girls with a history of IUGR.

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