Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Nutrition Journal and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Relationship between maternal obesity and infant feeding-interactions

Russell Rising1* and Fima Lifshitz2

Author affiliations

1 EMTAC Inc., 514 Santander Ave, #5, Coral Gables, FL 33134 USA

2 Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, 2219 Bath St., Santa Barbara, CA 93105 USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2005, 4:17  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-17

Published: 12 May 2005



There are no data regarding the relationship between maternal adiposity and interaction and feeding of infants and possible contribution to childhood obesity. In this study we determined the relationship between maternal body weight and composition and infant feeding patterns and maternal-infant interaction during 24-hour metabolic rate measurements in the Enhanced Metabolic Testing Activity Chamber (EMTAC).


The amount of time four obese (BMI = 33.5 ± 5.3 kg/m2) and three normal weight (BMI = 23.1 ± 0.6 kg/m2) biological mothers, spent feeding and interacting with their infants, along with what they ingested, was recorded during 24-hour metabolic rate measurements in the EMTAC. The seven infants were 4.9 ± 0.7 months, 69 ± 3 cm, 7.5 ± 0.8 kg, 26 ± 3 % fat and 29 ± 25 percentile for weight for length. Energy and macronutrient intake (kcal/kg) were assessed. Maternal body composition was determined by air displacement plethysmorgraphy and that of the infants by skin-fold thicknesses. Pearson correlations and independent t-tests were utilized for statistical analysis (p < 0.05).


Infants born to obese biological mothers consumed more energy (87.6 ± 18.9 vs. 68.1 ± 17.3) and energy as carbohydrate (25 ± 6 vs.16 ± 3; p < 0.05) than their normal weight counterparts. Most of the increased intake was due to complementary feedings. Twenty-four hour infant energy intake increased with both greater maternal body weight (r = 0.73;p < 0.06) and percent body fat. Furthermore, obese biological mothers spent less total time interacting (570 ± 13 vs. 381 ± 30 minutes) and feeding (298 ± 32 vs.176 ± 22 minutes) (p < 0.05) their infants than their normal weight counterparts. Twenty-four hour interaction time negatively correlated with both maternal body weight (r = -0.98; p < 0.01) and percent body fat (r = -0.92; p < 0.01). Moreover, infants of obese mothers slept more (783 ± 38 vs. 682 ± 32 minutes; p < 0.05) than their normal weight counterparts. However, there were no differences in total 24-hour energy expenditure, resting and sleeping metabolic rates (kcal/kg) for infants born to obese and normal weight biological mothers.


Greater maternal body weight and percent body fat were associated with greater infant energy intakes. These infants were fed less frequently and consumed more carbohydrates in a shorter period of time as compared to infants from normal weight biological mothers. These variations in feeding patterns may predispose certain infants to obesity.