Is Mom's Job Making Her Kids Fat?

Articles
October 05, 2009

Is Mom's Job Making Her Kids Fat?

A research report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health studied the link between maternal employment (Sorry guys! Your work patterns haven't changed much in the past few decades.) and child health behaviors. Are children of full-time or part-time working moms unhealthy?

A research report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health studied the link between maternal employment (Sorry guys! Your work patterns haven't changed much in the past few decades.) and child health behaviors. Are children of full-time or part-time working moms unhealthy? Do they spend more time unsupervised, and thus, when left to their own devices choose sweets and chips over fruits and vegetables? Well, it turns out they do.   
 
Based on data collected in the United Kingdom's Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), researchers interviewed moms about their working patterns and compared them with their five year-old children's eating and physical activity habits. One of the study's main findings was that children with employed mothers were more likely to have poor dietary habits, engage in less physical activity, and even be driven rather than walk or cycle to school (and working moms have time for that?) than those children whose moms had never been employed. 
 
The results of this study don't allow us to point fingers at working moms, as they are surely not to blame, but instead should encourage food retailers and manufacturers to assist in making it easy for parents to provide quick healthy snacks for their kids. In fact, baseline measurements revealed that many of the children, regardless if mom worked or not, had unhealthy habits to begin with; 37% snacked on potato chips, 41% consumed sugary drinks between meals, and over 60% used the computer or watched TV for over two hours a day. 
 
The relevance of this study's findings is clear as currently 60% of US and UK women with a five year-old or younger are employed. The long-term health and lifestyle implications of bad childhood habits are hard to change, so lets make it easier for families to provide their children with healthy snacks – we can thus guarantee a well-nourished healthy future for today's kid. 
 
Here are a few tips to help busy parents raise healthy kids:
Create a section of an aisle geared towards healthy snacks for kids. Make sure all of the choices are healthy as you want your customers to be happy and trust that you are providing them with the best information for their families.
  
Clearly label products that contain whole grains, low sugar (less than six grams), and medium to high fiber (2.5-5 or more grams). These are all important elements of a healthy diet.
 
Provide snack-sized versions of fresh cut fruits and vegetables. Market these as great kid (and parent) snacks. Suggest dips like hummus, nut butters and other veggie dips to go along with vegetables –
providing these in snack-sized containers is also helpful. 
 
One hundred percent fruit juice is an adequate drink for kids as well as milk which contains calcium for strong bones. And don't forget water. Place re-useable beverage containers in snack sections. This will help families cut down on waste and kids will always stay hydrated.