Maternal body image dissatisfaction and BMI change in school-age children

Ofra Duchin, Constanza Marin, Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Eduardo Villamor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Parental body image dissatisfaction (BID) is associated with children's weight in cross-sectional studies; however, it is unknown whether BID predicts development of adiposity. The objective of the present study was to investigate the associations between maternal dissatisfaction with her or her child's body and children's BMI trajectories. Design Longitudinal study. Maternal dissatisfaction (BID) with her and her child's body was calculated based on ratings of Stunkard scales obtained at recruitment, as current minus desired body image. Children's height and weight were measured at baseline and annually for a median of 2·5 years. Mixed-effects models with restricted cubic splines were used to construct sex- and weight-specific BMI-for-age curves according to maternal BID levels. Setting Public primary schools in Bogotá, Colombia. Subjects Children (n 1523) aged 5-12 years and their mothers. Results After multivariable adjustment, heavy boys and thin girls whose mothers desired a thinner child gained an estimated 1·7 kg/m2 more BMI (P=0·04) and 2·4 kg/m2 less BMI (P=0·004), respectively, between the age 6 and 14 years, than children of mothers without BID. Normal-weight boys whose mothers desired a thinner child's body gained an estimated 1·8 kg/m2 less BMI than normal-weight boys of mothers without BID (P=0·02). Maternal BID with herself was positively related to children's BMI gain during follow-up. Conclusions Maternal BID is associated with child's BMI trajectories in a sex- and weight-specific manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-292
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • BMI trajectories
  • Body image dissatisfaction
  • Maternal body image
  • Schoolchildren


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