A recent study concluded that as working moms raise the numbers in the checkbook, they’re also raising the numbers on the scale for their kids. The study showed that children of working moms had a higher BMI and likelihood of obesity than kids of non-working moms, especially when these moms worked evenings and weekends. Though the children of moms with long-term 9-to-5 jobs fared best among dual income families, BMI was highest when moms returned to the workforce during their children’s fifth and sixth grade years.
The study suggests that working mothers’ reliance on unhealthy fast food contributes to kids’ higher weight, as well as the fact that these moms are not around to steer their kids away from the TV and keep them active after school.
More moms are working all the time, and they have overwhelming public support for doing so. Sixty-six percent of U.S. mothers with children 17 or younger currently work full or part time. In addition, 75 percent of Americans believe that both husband and wife should contribute to the family income.
So working moms are certainly not going anywhere, yet obesity affects physical, mental, emotional and even economic health. So what to do about this trend? While placing the responsibility on moms, the study fails to address other factors such as divorce, fathers’ work schedules, school nutrition or economic necessity. Moms can’t just choose not to work for the sake of their kids’ health in the same way they can choose a healthier breakfast cereal.
Perhaps all involved in raising a child — mom, dad, caregivers and schools — could be accountable for making healthy food choices, modeling and encouraging an active lifestyle, and helping kids make good decisions for themselves.