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New Study: The More Mom Works, The More Overweight Her Kids

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Previous research has found a mother's employment is associated with an increase in a child's body mass index (BMI). A new study, sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and published by the journal of "Child Development" has now found a direct correlation between the amount of time a mother works out of the house and a child's BMI.

working mom

The study found that children of average height gained one pound (more than average growth), for every five months a mother worked -- the longer a woman worked, the more weight gained.

"Previous studies have looked at the relationship between weekly work hours and children's BMI," says the lead author of the study, Taryn Morrissey, Ph.D., an assistant professor of public administration and policy at American University. "Here, we went a step further and looked at the total number of years mothers were employed in order to measure the cumulative effects of employment."

A statistic from Health.comx puts this into perspective, "Over the past 35 years, the percentage of U.S. mothers who hold down a job while raising kids has soared, from less than 50 percent to more than 70 percent. The childhood obesity rate -- which is now close to 17 percent -- has more than tripled during the same time frame."

According to the study, working mothers are more likely to have over weight children because 1) working mothers face time constraints which result is spending less time on healthy meal preparation 2) children spend less time getting physical exercise, perhaps given their greater participation in child care and 3) children with working mothers spend more time watching TV .

"It's important to emphasize that it seems to be the environmental factors associated with the total time that moms work, and not maternal employment per se, that contributes to an increase in children's BMI," says Morrissey. "It is not the mother's employment, but the environment."

To read the study in its entirety, click here.

Momlogic wants to know -- as a working mother, do studies like this offend you? Does it offer help or hindrance? As a working mom, do you think your children are any less healthy than stay-at-home moms? As a working mom, what do you do to ensure your children are healthy?

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15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kat Gordon February 4, 2011, 3:02 PM

As a working mom, you can choose to be mad about studies like this or you can see them as opportunities to look more closely at something that might warrant your attention. I work 4 days a week and had concerns about the meals my kids would eat as a result. I hired an amazing nanny who loves to cook. That’s one strategy I believe will help working families (who can afford it) to combat resorting to take-out meals too often. Moms, keep working if it feeds your soul (or funds your family’s budget). Just make a strategy to keep your kids moving and eating in a healthy way.

JohnyBingoh February 5, 2011, 4:47 AM
Sandra Hopkins February 5, 2011, 11:05 AM

That would basically depending on the working mom, if she will still take time to at least check her kids intake it couldn’t be that worst.

Anonymous February 5, 2011, 6:53 PM

What happens to families where the mom works but the dad stays at home? I bet those kids get a lot more exercise than they would with mom.

Johnnia February 6, 2011, 7:55 AM

Your piece is well written, but you not totally correct. I am a working mom and a college student and I am completely aware of what my children consume. It’s not junk food or processed food either. I work part time and I go to school full time and on top of my “mommy duties” I still make time for my children and prepare healthy meals & snacks……maybe for the mother’s that let their children develop a problem aren’t that aware of what their children consume or spend time exercising….maybe their just lazy!

Whitney February 7, 2011, 11:22 AM

I think this is an interesting study - obviously the point is not to offend people, but to search for the cause of why this trend is happening and make families more cognizant about their children’s exercise and nutrition.

I think one thing the study shows is the importance of choosing quality child care. When you aren’t around are your children getting healthful snacks? Are they being plopped in front of the tv or getting much-needed exercise? All things for moms to add to their (already long) list when considering different options!

carrie February 8, 2011, 4:29 AM

I believe there are too many factors to say it is because the mom works. First, what are the parents eating habits? I know more kids that are obese and their moms are a stay at home moms and also obese. Actually in the majority of children that I see that are overweight so are their parents. So did this study have overweight working moms or were the moms of a healthy weight and only their kids were overweight? I believe the lifestyle of the parents will dictate the health of the child whether the parents work or not.

Christina February 8, 2011, 6:45 PM

No offense, Anonymous, but that is not necessarily the case. Further, one could argue dad is more likely to haul out the chips and other processed food items that are chunking the kids.

Michelle February 10, 2011, 11:43 AM

I am offended. It always ends up back on the mother. What about fathers??? It is the responsibility of both parents.. not just one. I am a full time working mother of 3 ~ my husband also works full time.. I dont get home until after 5:30 and I still make healthy meals for my family and I limit snacks in my house. No I am not with my kids 24/7 so I do not know what they eat while I am not there.. HOWEVER.. i have provided them with the necessary tools to make the right choices when it comes to food. Do they eat cookies.. yes.. do they eat ice cream.. of course ~ but they also eat lima beans.. asparagus.. spinach… squash.. so there is a balance. I know a lot of SAHM’s that dont cook and their kids are always eating fast food or boxed processed foods. So I dont want to hear it’s “working moms”. What it all boils down to is lazyness. Yes there are some nights I come home and dont want to cook.. but I still make sure they get a balanced meal even if it is eggs with veggies.

MMMM XXXX February 12, 2011, 6:15 AM

I am sick and tired of feeling like crap because I HAVE to work. I take care of my son as well or BETTER then some stay at home moms that I know. It has nothing to do with working, it has to do with how you want to take care of your child and if you are lazy or not!

central hearing loss February 27, 2011, 2:19 AM

Keep working ,impressive job!

Maureen March 23, 2011, 5:08 AM

Teach them how to prepare healthy foods.

Coleman Flashlight

Sara March 27, 2011, 11:11 AM

I really don’t think there is anything offensive about this study and articles about it. It’s not saying that female employment causes childhood obesity, but points out to working mothers how the constraints on their time can have a negative effect on their health. The more mothers and fathers are aware of these realities, the more they can make the conscious effort to rectify them.

Kaylyn May 21, 2011, 5:32 AM

Wow! That’s a really neat ansewr!

Nonie May 22, 2011, 11:24 AM

Now I know who the barniy one is, I’ll keep looking for your posts.

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