Helen has worked extensively with Heidi Bergmeier in this area; Heidi was Helen’s PhD student. Their discoveries in this area are ground-breaking. They have argued that in childhood obesity research, just as in developmental research, the emphasis must be shifted from the parent and child as individuals to the parent-child dyad, and that the development of lifelong eating habits is best understood in the ecology of parent-child dyadic interactions.

As part of her PhD, Heidi, pioneered advances in the observational measurement of bidirectional parent-child mealtime (meal preparation and child feeding) and playtime interactions. The system she and Helen’s team developed to code filmed home observations of these interactions was adapted based on the Mutually Responsive Orientation work of US colleagues Kochanska and Aksan and includes maternal responsiveness, child responsiveness, positive and negative affective tone of both mothers and their children, shared positive affect, maternal power assertion (maternal control) and qualitative distinctions in children’s compliance and noncompliance with maternal directives.

Helen’s work in this area has been published in >40 peer reviewed papers, including Heidi’s conceptual papers, such as:

Bergmeier, H., Paxton S.J., Milgrom, J., Anderson, S.E., Baur, L., Hill, B., Lim, S., Green, R., & Skouteris, H. (2019). Early mother-child dyadic pathways to childhood obesity risk: A conceptual model. Appetite, 144, 104459.