Washington: How a mother handles her toddler emotionally could determine whether the latter would pile on the pounds during adolescence, says a new US study.

The lower the quality of the child's emotional security and the mother's sensitivity, the higher the risk that a child would be obese at age 15 years, according to the study.

More than a quarter of toddlers who had the lowest-quality emotional relationships with their mothers were obese as teens. This compared to 13 percent of adolescents who had closer bonds with their mothers in their younger years.

"Childhood obesity could be influenced by interventions that try to improve the emotional bonds between mothers and children rather than focusing only on children's food intake and activity," says Sarah Anderson, assistant professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University who led the study.

Researchers analyzed data from 977 participants which included diverse families living in nine U.S. states whose children were born in 1991.
(Agencies)