The association between maternal depressive symptomology and child dinner dietary quality among Hispanic Head Start families

Katherine R. Arlinghaus, Thomas G. Power, Daphne C. Hernandez, Craig A. Johnston, Sheryl O. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary quality is important for children's growth and development. Poor dietary quality and maternal depression are prevalent among low-income, Hispanic families. Maternal depression likely influences child feeding before and during the meal. This secondary data analysis of an observational feeding study (2007–2008) examined how maternal depressive symptomology relates to dietary quality of dinner served to and consumed by Head Start preschoolers in Houston, TX (n = 82 mother-child dyads). A digital photography method assessed food served and consumed by the child at three separate dinner meals in families’ homes. Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI) was calculated and averaged across the three meals to measure dietary quality (possible range 0–100). Maternal depression was assessed by the Centers for Epidemiologic Depression Scale (CES-D, possible range 0–60). A series of linear regression models were developed, regressing the total CES-D score and all four CES-D subscales onto both the dietary quality of the meal served and consumed. Dinners served had a HEI of 45.70 ± 9.19 and dinners consumed had a HEI of 44.65 ± 7.34. Clinically significant depressive symptomology (CES-D ≥ 16) was reported by 28% of mothers. Maternal depressive symptomology and the dietary quality served were not related. Controlling for dietary quality served, total CES-D and somatic complaints subscale scores were associated with lower dietary quality consumed (respectively, β = −0.16, p < 0.05 and β = −0.23, p < 0.01). Among low-income, Hispanic families, maternal depressive symptomology was predictive of the dietary quality consumed, but not served. Together, these findings reinforce the importance of parent feeding behaviors and emotional climates during dinner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101196
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by funds from the United States Department of Agriculture , Grant No. 2006-55215-16695 . This work is a publication of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/ARS) Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and has been funded in part with federal funds from the USDA /ARS under Cooperative Agreement No. 58-3092-0-001 , and in part by Kraft Foods Inc. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the USDA , nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement from the U.S. government.


  • Dietary quality
  • Head start
  • Healthy eating index
  • Hispanic
  • Maternal depression

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The association between maternal depressive symptomology and child dinner dietary quality among Hispanic Head Start families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this