Monday, July 23, 2007

I bet this will cause a stir

This is the headline:

Risk of obesity soars with family income

Children with wealthy middle class parents are more likely to be overweight or obese than those from poor households, a study has revealed.

The findings go against conventional wisdom that Britain's poorest families have the worst diets - showing the risk of obesity actually soars with family income.


However, this is the real story:

Researchers linked the problem to the rise of highly-paid working mothers are often forced choose to leave a nanny or nursery in charge of their child's diet and physical exercise. - who

They were more likely to be overweight if their mother had taken up any work since their birth. Children were also more likely to be overweight for every 10 hours she worked per week.

"Long hours of maternal employment, rather than lack of money, may impede young children's access to healthy foods and physical activity," the researchers said.

"For example, parental time constraints could increase a child's consumption of snack foods and/or increase television use.

"We found that children were more likely to be overweight if the mother reported that she 'did not spend enough time with her child because of work'.

"We can speculate that these children may have had greater access to convenience foods and/or fewer opportunities for physical activity."

The study found children in childcare were more likely to be overweight or obese than those cared for by their mother or her partner.

In school-age children, those whose mothers worked were less likely to eat healthily than those whose mothers were full-time homemakers.

The researchers said that while breastfeeding had been found to protect children from becoming overweight in this study and others, returning to work early put many women off starting or continuing to breastfeed.

No link was found between the number of hours worked by the children's father, or mother's partner, and weight problems.


Can you imagine that? Mothering actually matters to the long-term health and well-being of children. And here I was worrying that I was wasting myself at home. (For those who may be passing through and can't tell, that was sarcasm.)

It should also be noted that children cared for by their fathers were healthier than children in daycare.

Families will need to rethink their dual income strategy if both parents are working to "give their children a better life."

On a side note, I would be interested in seeing the obesity rates for homeschooled children. Most of the homeschool families I know are very health conscious.

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13 comments:

Queen of Carrots said...

Interesting that these highly-paid working mothers are "forced" to leave their children to others.

Who, exactly, is forcing them to this dreadful fate?

Janine Cate said...

I couldn't resist editing the article and changing the wording from "forced" to "choose."

Crimson Wife said...

With the ridiculously high cost of living these days, many moms truly do have to work just to afford basics for their families such as housing, healthcare, and paying off their own student loans. I used to be one of them and it *REALLY* makes me angry when I hear "holier-than-thou" SAHM's like the PP bash those who are not fortunate enough to have a husband able to support the family on just his income alone.

Sure, there are some moms in the workforce who could afford to stay home, but the overwhelming majority of working moms are there out of economic necessity NOT choice!

Janine Cate said...

>but the overwhelming majority of working moms are there out of economic necessity NOT choice!

That's not what this research shows.

This study was looking at households where mothers worked to sustain a middle to upper-middle class lifestyle. They were not working to prevent starvation or homelessness. They were not working because their husbands were absent or disabled. They were working to maintain a more affluent lifestyle.

If your situation was different, I can see how it would be frustrating to be clumped in with that group.

Queen of Carrots said...

Yes, I did include "highly-paid" as a qualifier there--I do realize there are different economic circumstances.

And I didn't "bash" anyone, I just asked a question about where the "force" was coming from. Even student loans are a personal choice, albeit a past one.

"Force" suggests slave traders ripping screaming children away from their sobbing mothers, which is clearly not what is going on here. My question was aimed at the article author's word choice, as "force" is overused in public discource in settings where people do, in fact, have choices.

Judy Aron said...

I wonder if there is a difference between those kids who are placed in "factory daycare" like Kindercare versus kids placed in a "home based" daycare?

Janine Cate said...

>The study found children in childcare were more likely to be overweight or obese than those cared for by their mother or her partner.

Children cared for by their fathers while their mothers worked did not have the same negative effect as children in day care. Though I have seen studies that indicate that fathers are more lax about diet.

Home-based day care is a wild card. Parents really don't know what goes on when they are not there.

I have a friend who used to investigate complaints against home daycare centers when she worked with the police department. The stories she could tell would make anyone think twice about trusting a home day care.

Jacque said...

I have found that when Mom works outside the home, the health of the home suffers just because of the demands on time from all of the outside forces. This also includes families who are highly involved in activities outside the home. In these cases, most of the time (as I recall from my own childhood) there are a lot of fast-foods and eating-out for meals. There are also a lot of convenience or boxed foods, (though my Mom made sure that we had our fruits and veggies).

It's hard to fit in a home-cooked meal every night (let alone breakfast and lunch) when Mom is not at home.
Having worked in a church pre-school/daycare before, I know they try to be nutritionally sound, but they only have to follow federal guidelines, and that does not always include healthy choices (like they usually give sugary or snacks with a high white flour content).
Anyway, this is going to be quite a discussion, because it does bol down to choices. I understand that some moms are where they are and it seems that they *have* to work(not to minimize single moms who work - that's another discussion), but if we can live with 1 parent working, feeding 8 children (as we almost ALWAYS have), then I can't relate to the "With the ridiculously high cost of living these days, many moms truly do have to work just to afford basics for their families such as housing, healthcare, and paying off their own student loans. "

How's *this for a controversial statement: If more women stayed home with their children, there would be better paying jobs for a lot of working men. (runs for cover)

Blessings,
J

Janine Cate said...

> How's *this for a controversial statement: If more women stayed home with their children, there would be better paying jobs for a lot of working men. (runs for cover)

Jacque,
My husband got a laugh out of your closing statement.

I'm always impressed when I meet people who make it work on one income.

Leticia said...

Queen, sometimes it's the ridiculous tax structure which is built on the premise that both parents work, but sometimes it's pure selfishness which makes women work.
I ran a day care out of my house in order to be with my children, yet earn needed income (my dh supports his parents and 8 sibs in El Salvador). I saw PLENTY of food issues with kids; here's an example; one Mom picked up her obese daughter each day with a snack, 'for the way home'. The poor girl was already too heavy to go on the swings, what was Mom thinking?
I think they feel guilty, and pay off the children with food.

Janine Cate said...

>I think they feel guilty, and pay off the children with food.

Good point.

steph said...

I'm at home a majority of the time and the health of my home suffers regardless (okay, I do make all the meals normally--healthy ones--and we live off of healthy leftovers the few days I do work as a reservist, but you get my drift). I could make a million excuses for my poor housekeeping, but I'm just a bad housekeeper (I'm a perfectionist who likes to do a job thoroughly in one fell swoop. And I have two active and often difficult kids who punctuate my day with drama, so "one fell swoop" is impossible. I know, I seriously need to fix my expectations gap...) But I dance and paint and sing with and love and discipline my daughters. My family is healthy in that respect. But I get what you're saying.

Maybe that gal's daughter was cranky as a toddler when she didn't get a snack close enough to pick-up time and it became an unnecessary habit as she got older. When I have put my older daughter in daycare, I always have a snack ready for her when I pick her up, but I do ask the gals that work there when the last time she ate was so that if she has eaten it doesn't mess up her dinner.

Good points on semantics of "forcing" and so on. I heard a sermon on the radio last week about that--how our kids say "I'm starving!" and they have no real idea what starvation is.

I must say that it's ironic that Great Britain did a study that showed a large (sorry, no pun intended) majority of SAHMs over there were overweight or obese. So you stay home, are fat and have skinny kids or you go to work, stay thin and have fat kids? Help! No one wins...

I think we need to take these studies with a grain of salt. Hard to paint someone else's canvas with so broad a brush, no matter how interesting it is to discuss the model (what was the name of the artist with the generously endowed--and I don't mean bosoms--models? I forget.) Sorry, metaphor alert...chalk it up to two littles who never seem to sleep at the same time, even at night.

Janine Cate said...

>So you stay home, are fat and have skinny kids or you go to work, stay thin and have fat kids? Help!

Boy, I know that one.