Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children's BMI found to rise the longer their mothers work

Date:
February 5, 2011
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Using U.S national longitudinal data on 900 children in grades 3, 5 and 6, researchers have found that children's body mass index rose the more years their mothers worked over their children's lifetimes. Surprisingly, changes in children's physical activity, unsupervised time, and TV time didn't explain the link. The reasons for these findings are not entirely clear, though one possibility is that working parents may rely more on eating out or eating prepared foods.

Childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled in the past three decades, and prior research has linked maternal employment to children's body mass index (BMI), a measure of their weight-for-height. A new study in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development has found that children's BMI rose the more years their mothers worked over their children's lifetimes.

Researchers at American University, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago used longitudinal information from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, which was sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). They looked at 900 children in grades 3, 5, and 6 who lived in 10 cities across the country.

The researchers found that the total number of years mothers were employed had a small but cumulative influence on their children's BMI, which, over time, can lead to an increase in the likelihood of overweight or obesity. The findings were strongest among children in 5th and 6th grades. Surprisingly, changes in children's physical activity, time spent unsupervised, and time spent watching TV didn't explain the link between maternal employment and children's BMI. Moreover, the time of day moms worked wasn't significantly associated with children's BMI.

The reasons for these findings are not entirely clear. According to the authors, one possibility is that working parents have limited time for grocery shopping and food preparation. This may contribute to a greater reliance on eating out or eating prepared foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories.

Given that more than 70 percent of U.S. mothers with young children work, the importance of providing support to these families is clear. Based on their findings, the researchers call for efforts to expand the availability of affordable, readily accessible healthy foods, and to support and educate working parents about strategies for providing nutritious meals despite busy schedules.

"About a fifth of American children are considered obese, and childhood obesity has been associated with health, behavior, and academic problems in adolescence and adulthood," according to Taryn W. Morrissey, assistant professor in public administration and policy at American University, who led the study.

"Community- and school-based programs offer promise for promoting healthy weight by providing information to children and their families about nutrition and exercise, as well as how to make quick, healthy meals."

The study was supported by NICHD.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Taryn W. Morrissey, Rachel E. Dunifon, Ariel Kalil. Maternal Employment, Work Schedules, and Children’s Body Mass Index. Child Development, 2011; 82 (1): 66 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01541.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Children's BMI found to rise the longer their mothers work." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204091250.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2011, February 5). Children's BMI found to rise the longer their mothers work. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204091250.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Children's BMI found to rise the longer their mothers work." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204091250.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins