Do stay-at-home moms have kids that are less likely to be obese? Childhood obesity is a growing problem, and now a new study links obesity in kids to moms who work outside the home.
Moms Who Stay at Home vs. Moms Who Work
For some women, staying at home isn’t an option. But according to a recent study published in the journal Child Development, moms who work outside the home are more likely to have obese children than moms who stay at home.
When researchers closely followed 900 grade-school children in ten cities nationwide, they found that kids with moms who worked outside the home had greater body mass indexes (BMI) than children who grow up in a family with a stay-at-home mom. This weight discrepancy was more pronounced in older grade-school kids than in younger ones. They also found the more years a mom worked outside the home, the greater the weight gain among her offspring. For every five months a mom worked, a child would weigh about a pound more than expected.
Obese Children: Should Moms Who Work Be Concerned?
This study should certainly raise concerns, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that working outside the home increases a child’s risk of being overweight or obese. For one thing, this study doesn’t take into account why a mom is working. If a mom works because money is tight, it could affect food choices and stress levels in the home, which could alter a child’s eating habits. This may not be true for moms who work because they enjoy it.
There are several reasons why stay-at-home moms might have slimmer children than working mothers. A mom who stays at home and has time to cook may be less likely to serve a child fast food or processed foods than working moms. Moms who work may have less time to spend with their kids, which means the kids spend more of their free hours in front of the television or computer.
Obese Children and Working Moms: Should Moms Who Work Be Concerned?
It’s not always practical to quit work and become a stay-at-home mom. But you can reduce the amount of fast-food and processed food your kids eat and take steps to keep them active while you’re at work. Get a cookbook that shows how to prepare healthy, crockpot recipes. Put the ingredients into the pot in the morning so it will be ready when you get off from work.
Another option is to prepare healthy meals on the weekend and store them in the freezer to be ready to serve during the week when time is tight. Whatever you do, take the time to sit down and eat a meal as a family whenever possible – and schedule activities for your kids to do while you’re at work to keep them more active.
The Bottom Line?
Don’t give up your job but make sure the kids aren’t lying in front of the T.V. while you work and make sure they get a healthy dinner – not processed food or fast food. This will go far towards keeping them slim.
Eurekalert.org. “Children’s BMI Found to Rise the Longer Their Mothers Work”