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Obes Res. 2005 Jun;13(6):1070-6.

Gender differences in associations of eating pathology between mothers and their adolescent offspring.

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  • 1Obesity Unit, M73, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.



To study the association of eating pathology between mothers and their adolescent offspring in a population sample.


The participants were 481 women (mean age, 47+/-SD 5 years; BMI, 25+/-4 kg/m2) and their 481 adolescent children 16 to 17 years old (BMI, 21+/-3 kg/m2) of the Stockholm Weight Development Study. Assessment methods were the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire Revised 18 and the Eating Disorder Inventory 2.


A higher body weight was most related to cognitive restraint for adolescents and to emotional eating for adult women. A mother-daughter link could be identified for eating pathology, with the strongest link found for emotional eating. No mother-son link could be identified. Age subgroup analyses revealed a stronger mother-daughter link for body attitudes in younger mothers and for cognitive restraint in older mothers.


Gender differences revealed that eating pathology was shared by mothers and daughters but not by mothers and sons. A psychological strategy such as eating as a response to negative emotions was most interrelated between mothers and daughters. Younger mothers shared more attitudes toward the body with their daughters, whereas older mothers shared more restrictive eating behaviors with their daughters. The mother-daughter links found may be due to gender-specific genetic and psychological family transmission and gender-specific environmental influences. The sons' eating behaviors seem to be more independent and would be formed by other factors than for the girls.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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