Children of working mothers less healthy: study

Oct 08, 2009 by Lin Edwards weblog
children
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new British study has found that the children of working mothers are less likely to eat right and exercise than children of mothers who stay home.

The U.K. Millenium Cohort Study analyzed data on 12,576 singleton aged nine months to five years old. The study found children whose mothers worked were more likely to have unhealthy habits such as snacking on potato chips and consuming sweet drinks, and they were less likely to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and get proper exercise. The results were similar for mothers who worked part time and full time, and were not related to factors such as the mother's or ethnicity.

According to the paper, published in the , time constraints may limit the capacity of parents to provide healthy foods and encourage their children to exercise. The authors, Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Tim J Cole, and Catherine Law, said the research was intended to underscore the need for a review of the policies in effect and the training given to child carers. It was not intended to add guilt to that already felt by many working mothers.

The research did not specify the kind of care the children were given while their mothers were at work, and it did not look at the effects of whether fathers worked or not. The authors said they excluded fathers because their patterns of work have changed little in the last few decades.

An estimated 60% of women in the U.S. and U.K. now work after having children, according to the Institute of Child Health in the U.K. Many of these women say they have little or no choice in whether to work or not.

The research also found many of the children had unhealthy habits such as drinking sodas (41%), snacking on potato chips (37%), and spending more than two hours a day or using a computer (61%), regardless of whether or not their mothers worked. This suggests it is not only working who need some help.

More information: Examining the relationship between maternal employment and health behaviours in 5-year-old British children, J Epidemiol Community Health. Published Online First: 29 September 2009. doi:10.1136/jech.2008.084590

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Night owls face greater risk of developing diabetes than early risers

Related Stories

Working mums and overweight kids: is there a link?

Nov 22, 2007

New research from the University of Bristol shows that children aged between 5 and 7, whose mothers work full time, are more likely to be overweight at age 16. The impact on their weight is not immediate; rather, children ...

Researchers: big families carry risks

Jan 15, 2007

Researchers at the University of Utah and the Austrian Academy of Sciences say having a large number of children can be hazardous to the health of parents.

Empty nest syndrome may not be bad after all, study finds

Feb 21, 2008

One day they are crawling, the next day they are driving and then suddenly they aren’t kids anymore. As children reach adulthood, the parent-child relationship changes as parents learn to adapt to newly independent children. ...

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

3 hours ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

4 hours ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

6 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

7 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

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.