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Keywords:

  • children;
  • overweight;
  • family structure;
  • eating behaviors;
  • hierarchy;
  • cohesion

Abstract

Objective:

To explore associations between family structure, children's body mass index (BMI), and eating behaviors of children and their mothers.

Method:

Fifty-seven mothers and their children took part in an experimental study. BMI of children was measured. Mothers were asked to provide self-report data on sociodemographic background, mental health, and eating behaviors about themselves and their children. Parent-child-dyads represented their family structure using the Family System Test.

Results:

We found negative associations in typical family situations between family hierarchy and children's BMI, mothers' emotional eating and mothers' restrained eating. Family cohesion and restrained eating of the children were also negatively correlated. We obtained positive associations in typical and conflict family situations between family cohesion and external eating of the children.

Discussion:

We found indications that family structure is associated with overweight and with eating behavior in children and their mothers. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2009