Another study of working moms, another negative finding about their kids. This one suggests that working mothers have kids with higher body mass indexes and that the more mothers work, the more excess weight their child gains.
The government-funded study published Friday in the journal Child Development examined 900 children in grades 3, 5, and 6 and found that every five months of a mom working translated into an average of nearly one extra pound for her child -- above and beyond what a child that age and height would normally gain. By sixth grade, kids of working moms were nearly six times as likely to be overweight.
Short of quitting work (not going to happen), I think it might be helpful to understand some possible reasons to explain the correlation.
"Working mothers face time constraints," write the study authors from Cornell, American University, and University of Chicago. "They spend less time in meal preparation and rely more heavily on fast foods or prepared foods, which generally are high in fat and calories, than do nonworking mothers."
They cited a study that found this to be the case and another that found that in homes that have two working parents, a greater share of the food budget was spent on restaurant meals rather than on vegetables, fruit, fish, and chicken.
Children of working moms may also go to bed later, which means they get less and possibly more erratic sleep -- a risk factor for obesity.
I know my kids go to bed past their normal bedtimes whenever I get home late since their dinner time is dependent on when I can prepare their meal. I also know they're more likely to hit the pretzels and Gushers when I'm not home instead of the clementines and bananas sitting on the kitchen counter.
And, yes, I'm prone to picking up takeout pizza whenever I get really delayed by a deadline or traffic jam.
Having this extra awareness may make it easier to, say, prioritize earlier mealtimes and bedtimes. Perhaps I should get that supermarket shopping done after my kids are in bed rather than on my way home from work.
But working moms should also take the study in stride. It merely correlates working with a child's weight. As I've written before, any study linking two things hardly proves cause and effect.
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