Maternal Self-Efficacy Is Protective for Child (but Not Mother) Body Mass Index among Mexican-Origin Children with Negative Temperament

Sonali Rajan, Laudan Jahromi, Diamond Bravo, Adriana Umaña-Taylor, Kimberly Updegraff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective:Childhood obesity persists as a serious public health concern, particularly among Mexican-origin youth. Teen mothers are also at heightened obesity risk. Multiple factors may exacerbate this risk, including stressors associated with parenting. Indeed, difficult child temperaments pose unique parenting challenges, which may also be linked to physical health outcomes in mothers. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the interaction between negative child temperament and parenting self-efficacy is related to the body mass index (BMI) of young children and their adolescent mothers while controlling for important contextual factors. We also examined which pathways differed for girls versus boys.Methods:Data were from a longitudinal study spanning 5 years that included 204 Mexican-origin young mothers and their children (with data collected at birth, age 4 years, and age 5 years). A multigroup structural equation modeling framework was used.Results:The rate of early childhood obesity was low in comparison with national averages, whereas the rate of adolescent mother obesity was notably higher than the national average. Negative child temperament was associated with higher child BMI among those adolescent mothers with low parenting self-efficacy. Among the children with a negative temperament, their mothers' high parenting self-efficacy may have served as a protective factor against unhealthy child BMI. This significant interaction held for both boys and girls.Conclusion:Research evaluating the potential effectiveness of interventions that promote parenting self-efficacy during early childhood as a means to reduce the rate of obesity among children of adolescent mothers should be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-641
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Teenage motherhood
  • obesity
  • parenting self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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