Child obesity ‘linked to working mothers’

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, February 4, 2011 9:29 EDT
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WASHINGTON — The more mothers work during their children’s lifetimes, the more likely their kids are to be overweight or obese, according to a US study published on Friday.

Researchers from American University in Washington, Cornell University in New York state and the University of Chicago studied data on more than 900 elementary- and middle-school-aged children in 10 US cities.

They found that the total number of years the children’s mothers worked had a cumulative influence on their children’s body mass index (BMI) — the weight to height ratio used to measure if a person is overweight or obese.

“Every period of time (averaging 5.3 months) a mother was employed was associated with an increase in her child?s BMI of 10 percent of a standard deviation,” says the study which was published in the journal Child Development.

“For a child of average height, this is equivalent to a gain in weight of nearly one pound (half a kilogram) every five months above and beyond what would typically be gained as a child ages.”

The findings were strongest among sixth graders, the oldest children for whom data was studied. Sixth graders are typically 11 years old.

Changes in the children’s physical activity, time spent unsupervised or watching television did not explain the link between maternal employment and children’s BMI, the study says.

Moreover, a mother working odd hours or overnight was not significantly associated with their children’s BMI.

The researchers were unable to clearly explain the findings but theorized that because working mothers have little time to shop for healthy food and prepare meals, they and their children eat more fast- and packaged foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories.

Childhood obesity in the United States has tripled in 30 years.

Today, one in three US kids is overweight or obese, meaning they are more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to grow up to be obese adults and suffer from obesity-related conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease.

Childhood obesity has also been linked to “behavior and academic problems in adolescence and adulthood,” said the lead author of the study Taryn Morrissey, assistant professor in public administration and policy at American University, calling for healthy foods to be made more accessible to working families.

“Given that more than 70 percent of US mothers with young children work, the importance of providing support to these families is clear,” the study says.

Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    And this is known as a “pre-existing condition” to the filthy bastards that screw the poor out of their health benefits and the money they save puts them in their gated communities where we can’t get to them with axe handles and pitch forks.

  • Guest

    It’s also known as not having enough money to buy healthy foods thanks to the 2% at the top of the food chain acting as Pac Men eating up the cash flow. Trickle down my ass!!!

  • Anonymous

    As a conservative progressive, I wish we could go back to the days of the 50′s and 60′s when a family could live on a single income, Corporations paid an equal % of taxes as the individual, and those who made over 3.2 million in income paid 90% in taxes. In those days, corporatist either paid a large amount of taxes or they could pay their employees a livable wage and invest money back into their company. Now the corporatist big decision is how many homes and planes to own.
    But we will never see those days again as long as there are Teapublicans who believe that 90% of the population who controls less than 23% of the wealth should pay all the taxes and those who control 77% of the countries wealth pay very little. But try to convince those who believe Glen Beck ( who made 35 million last year) to stop working against their best interested and they will just call you an islamocommiefascist then demand the government to keep their hands off their medicare.

  • Anonymous

    BMI can be a misleading metric. It does not account for ones that are well muscled. If your weight is higher than average, your BMI increases. Someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger or chiseled athletes will tend to have high BMI’s.

  • overdoneputaforkinit

    Food replaces meaningful social contact. Starting this pattern early in life with the mother away from home or otherwise engaged and unavailable to the child. People eat to medicate feelings of sadness, rejection, worthlessness, etc.

  • Anonymous

    I keep seeing these ads where a woman/mother is bitching about the government taxing soda, chip and other crap that people feed their kids because it is convenient. The tax would not be overwhelming but is intended to make people think before they buy that shit and to help off set Medicaid for kids who are sick because they are fat. Hey mom’s how about some personal responsibly here. Oh yeah and I know wno are behind these ads… It’s still up to parents to decide what they provide to their children just because it’s in a grocery store doesn’t mean it’s good for you or your kids.

  • Anonymous

    The base link is between child obesity and income. Low income = 2-earner families. Usually low income also = food stamps, which themselves have exploded in growth, even in the last 5 years. Yes, child obesity is linked to working moms. It’s also linked to food stamps and very used cars.
    But it’s caused by poverty and genetics.

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ hounddogg

    whats really sad is they try to make it look like it a grassroots effort to stop these taxes and it’s just another AstroTurf group…here are the coalition “Members”

    and there is no tax hike being proposed yet!…(and this if from Fox no less)

  • Anonymous

    I disagree… Just because BOTH parents work outside the home does not mean that kids don’t have meaningful social contact. Mothers have been working outside the home for decades yet it has been most recently that kids are becoming grossly over weight. Everyone seems to want to take the easy way out and blame working Mothers, by the way working Fathers bare responsibility here as well. Kids don’t get fat eating fruit and vegetables or by drinking milk and water they are being provided unhealthy foods for shear convince. Mothers and Fathers can work outside the home and have healthy weight kids with high self esteem. If this is a single mother raising kids on her own issue, why isn’t some of the responsibility being placed on dead beat DADS?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SH3HFNJEQTEQ2NZ4QPN3RQWVOY Wayne Gorman

    There was a time when a man could support his family and the woman could stay home (or not) and oversee children and the home. Soon the child will have to work and help support the lost family of yesterday. At least they will lose weight. Kinda like third world countries. Don’tcha love it. Now, which corporate bought Congress condones this?

  • overdoneputaforkinit

    I’m not trying to demonize working parents in general. Parents need to continue taking responsibility for their children during the hours they work. But often parents treat the children like an object they can put on a shelf until they get back from work. And when they get back from work they are too tired or irritated to interact with the child. Children left alone or with cold or abusive babysitters can feel abandoned while the parent is at work. The hours pass by slowly and take emotional toll on the child. You pointed out ways parents can work and be responsible while they are at work.

  • Anonymous

    That is a totally different issue, but yes parents Mothers and Fathers are responsible for both the physical and emotional health of their children. Parents who are unable to provide total support for their children may well have been taught that by their parents that does not make right it just makes it more challenging to break the cycle. I would be interested in how many of those children in the study are the product of teen pregnancy and are parented by very young mothers. It was stated by another post that this a social issue and hereditary and that could be the root of it but in American culture there is always blame and no solution.

  • Anonymous

    What a crock of sh%t. I worked while my children were growing, neither were overweight. Both of my daughters work full time – none of their children are overweight. I provided good meals and activity. I had to work because one paycheck was not enough to maintain a middle class income. Poverty is the problem.

  • Anonymous

    Stop texting. Talk to your kids. Kids from low income homes are spoken to less than those with higher incomes. The kids who are spoken to have better vocabs and do better in school. If you are texting and using that phone you are not communicating with your kids – whether you are poor or rich.

  • Anonymous

    It is LINKED to all the other comments PLUS if working moms could have some support system at home to help. #1….schools should teach parenting skills, #2…schools could teach home economics again. WAY too many kids do NOT know how to cook, they learn how to open a package! Even food stamps can go a LOT further if the user actually cooks. Put the stuff in the crock pot to cook while you are at work….there are recipes for over night oatmeal for breakfast. Most poor folk can afford & use the internet…learn to cook, learn to explore recipes. learn to take an active role in your well being.Complaining about the filthy rich makes us all feel good inside, but getting off our asses & overcoming our problems will make us STRONG! Families do not need to go anywhere to be happy..STAY home, cook learn, play together and quit feeling the need to go hang with friends! Tend to business!