A detailed understanding of the underlying drivers of obesity-risk behaviours is needed to inform prevention initiatives, particularly for individuals of low socioeconomic position who are at increased risk of unhealthy weight gain. However, few studies have concurrently considered factors in the home and local neighbourhood environments, and little research has examined determinants among children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The present study examined home, social and neighbourhood correlates of BMI (kg/m2) in children living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Cross-sectional data were collected from 491 women with children aged 5–12 years living in forty urban and forty rural socioeconomically disadvantaged areas (suburbs) of Victoria, Australia in 2007 and 2008. Mothers completed questionnaires about the home environment (maternal efficacy, perceived importance/beliefs, rewards, rules and access to equipment), social norms and perceived neighbourhood environment in relation to physical activity, healthy eating and sedentary behaviour. Children's height and weight were measured at school or home. Linear regression analyses controlled for child sex and age. In multivariable analyses, children whose mothers had higher efficacy for them doing physical activity tended to have lower BMI z scores (B = − 0·04, 95 % CI − 0·06, − 0·02), and children who had a television (TV) in their bedroom (B = 0·24, 95 % CI 0·04, 0·44) and whose mothers made greater use of food as a reward for good behaviour (B = 0·05, 95 % CI 0·01, 0·09) tended to have higher BMI z scores. Increasing efficacy among mothers to promote physical activity, limiting use of food as a reward and not placing TV in children's bedrooms may be important targets for future obesity prevention initiatives in disadvantaged communities.