Children of working mothers ‘more likely to be overweight’

Telegraph (UK) 26 May 2010

Children of working women are more likely to be overweight than those whose mothers stay at home with them, a new study has found. The demands of work mean mothers with jobs have less time to prepare proper meals and are more likely to drive their children to school instead of walking with them. Children whose mothers work also spend more time unsupervised, meaning they can eat unhealthy snacks and spend hours watching television, researchers from University College London found. The study, which spanned two generations of British children and their parents, recorded the weights and measurements of 8,500 seven-year-olds in 1965, then repeated the process with some of their children in the 1990s. Forty-five years ago, eight per cent of girls and 12 per cent of boys had weight problems, but these figures had risen by 50 per cent in 1991.

In the Sixties, children with working mothers were up to 28 per cent more likely to be overweight than those whose mothers were housewives, but three decades later the difference had risen to 48 per cent. The American Journal of Epidemiology reported that the change was likely to be due to the development of a fast food culture. During this period, the number of mothers who had jobs also increased by more than 30 per cent.