BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Little attention has been given to the study of early childhood factors that protect against the development of obesity and severe obesity. We investigated whether exposure to familial psychosocial assets and risks in infancy (1-15 months) and early childhood (24-54 months) and child behavioral regulation in early childhood predict longitudinal change in BMI (2 to 15 years). METHODS: Participants included 1077 predominantly non-Hispanic, White, English-speaking mother-child dyads from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development dataset. Cumulative familial asset and risk indices were created using measures (eg, maternal parenting sensitivity, poverty) from 2 developmental periods (1-15 months, 24-54 months). A child behavioral regulation index was created on the basis of behavioral tasks and parent reports. Previously published BMI trajectories (nonoverweight [40th percentile], nonoverweight [70th percentile], overweight/obese, severely obese) were used as the outcome. RESULTS: All indices predicted membership in the overweight/obese trajectory; however, when entered into the same model, only familial assets continued to reduce the odds of membership in this trajectory. Familial assets and child behavioral regulation independently reduced the odds of membership in the severely obese trajectory. Furthermore, child behavioral regulation and familial assets buffered the negative effects of familial risk on BMI trajectory membership. CONCLUSIONS: Early exposure to familial assets and child behavioral regulation may have long-term protective effects on weight gain over early exposure to some familial risk factors (eg, poverty); thus, these indices may help foster obesity resilience.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health