Children who have a poor emotional relationship with their mother are more than twice as likely to become obese, research claims.
A study found toddlers who struggle with their mothers are at higher risk of being grossly overweight by the time they are 15.
Those who had the worst emotional relationship were almost two-and-half times more likely to be obese at 15 than those with a strong bond.
Meanwhile, only 13 per cent who had close bonds in their formative years became obese.
US researchers studied nearly 1000 toddlers and their mothers at play then rated how strong the bond was between mother and child. The participants were then assessed for obesity at 15.
The prevalence of obesity in adolescence was 26.1 per cent among children with the poorest early maternal-child relationships according to the research, which will appear in the online Journal of Paediatrics next month.
Ohio State University epidemiology professor Sarah Anderson said eating comfort food throughout childhood could be linked to youngsters not being given the right tools to deal with stress.
She said: "It is possible 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.
"We need to think about how we can support better-quality maternal-child relationships because that could have an impact on child health. A well-regulated stress response could influence how well children sleep and whether they eat in response to emotional distress - just two factors that affect the likelihood for obesity."
- DAILY MAIL