We aimed to compare obese children and their non-obese counterpart on children’s negative emotionality, emotion regulation and maternal parenting styles and to examine the joint contribution of children’s temperament and maternal styles to children’s obesity.
A total of 200 mothers were involved in this study, 100 with children diagnosed with obesity (49 boys, 51 girls; the age ranged from 6 to 12 years), and 100 with children with a normal weight (49 boys, 51 girls; the age ranged from 6 to 12 years). Mothers completed self-report measures on children’s emotionality, emotion regulation, and parenting styles.
The comparison between the two groups showed that obese children, compared with their non-obese counterpart, had higher levels of negative emotionality and emotional lability and a lower level of emotion regulation; they also had more authoritarian and permissive mothers than non-obese counterpart. Logistic regressions showed a joint contribution of the authoritarian parenting style and emotional lability to obesity, so that both at lower and higher levels of emotion lability, children’s obesity tended to be lower when authoritarian style was low and to be higher when authoritarian style was high.
Understanding the mechanisms through which parenting styles and characteristics of children are associated to obesity risk may lead to the development of more-comprehensive and better-targeted interventions.