Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    The More Moms Work, the More Kids Gain Weight?

    Study Shows Link Between Weight Gain in Kids and Number of Years a Mom Works
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Feb. 4, 2011 -- The more years a mother works during her children's growing-up years, the more likely the children's weight is to rise, according to a new study.

    The findings echo some previous findings but also extend them, according to researcher Taryn Morrissey, PhD, assistant professor in public administration and policy at American University.

    ''Whereas many previous studies have examined intensity of maternal employment in terms of her work hours, we extend this line of work by showing an association between intensity of maternal employment over the child's lifetime -- that is, cumulative exposure to maternal employment as the child grows older -- and her child's BMI [body mass index]," Morrissey writes.

    Bottom line: The longer a mom's employment -- whether she's toiling at a regular 9-to-5 job or works irregular hours -- the more likely her child is to gain more weight than is healthy.

    "This is not a reason for moms to feel guilty," Morrissey tells WebMD. ''It’s not maternal employment per se that's the issue. It's an underlying environmental factor that leads to this association."

    What that factor (or factors) is has yet to be uncovered, she says.

    The study is published in the journal Child Development.

    Working Mothers and Weight Gain in Kids

    Morrissey and her team evaluated data on 990 children who were enrolled in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The children lived in 10 different cities across the country.

    The researchers checked data about mothers' employment and kids' BMI when the children were in grades three, five, and six. The researchers looked at whether the mothers worked, whether they worked traditional schedules or not, and the length of the employment. They didn't look at how many hours were worked, Morrissey says, so there's no way to give a threshold of how many hours is linked to increasing weight in kids.

    What they did find it that the total number of years that the mothers were working had a small but cumulative effect on the child's BMI.

    How small? For every 5.3-month period the mother was employed, the child had a slight increase in BMI over and above what would be expected with normal weight gain with age.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Article
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    Article
     
    hand holding a cell phone
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    girl being bullied
    Article
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow