Chaotic Households Contribute to Mothers' Obesity

Feb 06, 2009

Putting food on the table, struggling with unemployment and meeting the relentless needs of young children all contribute to household stress. Now, a new study finds that these pressures also increase the possibility that a mother will be obese.

Although mothers’ weight increases along with household instability, their young children’s weight does not, according to lead author Earle Chambers, Ph.D. The study of urban mothers appears in the February issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 32 percent of all Americans are obese, 41 percent of mothers were obese in this study. Thirty-eight percent of mothers in low-instability households were obese, while nearly 48 percent in high-instability households were obese.

The researchers rated household instability by taking into account parental stress (for instance, whether mothers felt alone or trapped by their responsibilities), financial instability and ability to keep food on the table. The average age of the mothers was 28, and 40 percent of children did not have a father in the house.

“My interest is to look at the intersection between the home environment and the neighborhood environment and see how those intersections influence obesity,” Chambers said. Access to healthy places to eat and exercise space can make a difference, he added.

At the time of the study, Chambers was working with the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York Obesity Research Center. He is now an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national survey of children born in 20 large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000. The authors focused on 1,449 mothers in the study whose weight and height were included.

The results did not surprise Adam Drewnowski, director of the University of Washington Center for Obesity Research in Seattle. “There will be wide variability by area, but based on our analyses of data from California and from New York, every additional 10 percent in poverty rates translates into another 6 percent rise in obesity rates,” he said. “So if these were lower-income mothers, this is exactly what you would expect.”

The study did not show that stress factors affecting parents put children (mostly 3-year olds) at risk for obesity. Chambers did not have data to investigate why this was, but added, “A mother prioritizes her needs well below the needs of her child,” he said. “Some of that is playing a part here.”

On the web: http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_health_care_for_the_poor_and_underserved/
Paper: Chambers EC, Duarte CS, Yang FM. Household instability, area poverty and obesity in urban mothers and their children. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 20(1), 2009.

Source: Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Explore further: Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

4 hours ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

6 hours ago

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

6 hours ago

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist ...

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

8 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

Recommended for you

Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

11 hours ago

A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die—a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's ...

'Tis the season to overeat

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.

Don't let burns mar your holidays

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—The risk of burns from fires and cooking accidents increases during the holidays, so you need to be extra cautious, an expert says.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.