Working mothers may have overweight children

2011-02-04 10:42

A recent study published in the journal Child Development concluded that the length of time a mother was employed outside of the home increased the chances that her children would be overweight.

The study authors were careful to say, about their conclusions, that a mother's working is not the cause of obesity, but rather an association.

The researchers from American University, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago, chose a sampling of 900 children in grades 3, 5, and 6 in 10 different cities across the nation. The findings showed that the longer the mother was employed, the higher the child's body mass index measured. The 5th and 6th graders showed the highest increase.

BMI lead to child obesity link finding

The researchers looked at the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the children and found that a there was approximately a 1-pound weight gain for every six months that the child's mother worked.

The study authors said they did not directly know why the weight increased. They did, however, have some theories regarding the time that families had to eat together, the time they had to make healthy food choices, and the time they had to prepare healthy food in the home as all being possible factors for weight increase.

The study surprisingly found no link between the amount of physical activity, the time spent unsupervised, and the time spent watching television with the increased BMI for the children of working mothers.

Childhood Obesity on the Rise

The incidence of childhood obesity is now 17 percent and has tripled over the past 30 years.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), obese children are at higher risk for immediate and long-term health problems. Their website states that obese children have higher risks of cardiovascular related diseases, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems. They are also at risk for being overweight as adults which brings their risk factor higher for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

It is important as a nation to bring awareness to this growing epidemic and to provide some real and workable solutions. Although there are already programs in place, more needs to be done as the numbers are on the rise. Food industries also need to be involved by taking a look at their products' ingredients and the way that they market themselves to children.

Some solutions for combating obesity are physical activity, healthy nutrition choices, and healthy lifestyle habits.

Medline Plus' website encourages families to:


"If a weight loss program is necessary, involve the whole family in healthy habits so your child doesn't feel singled out. You can encourage healthy eating by serving more fruits and vegetables and buying fewer sodas and high-calorie, high-fat snack foods. Physical activity can also help your child overcome obesity or being overweight. Kids need about 60 minutes each day."

Also read: Change Diet Before Pregnancy for Healthier Kids

Previous Studies

Other studies in the past have also found this link between working mothers and obese children. One study conducted in 2003 found that for every 10 hours a mother worked each week, the obesity chances increased by 1 to 1.5 percentage points. Another study ion Japanese schoolchildren in 2007 found that the BMIs were higher in those children who had full-time working mothers and were more likely to be overweight.
A Mother's Choice or Necessity


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