The nation is already struggling with the issue of weight and body mass index (BMI) in adults, and now it has been revealed that American children are turning obese at an alarming rate.
Working moms and obese kids go hand-in-hand
In a recent U.S. study published on Friday, it has been revealed that childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled in the past three decades, with working moms to be blamed mainly for kids’ obesity problems. After looking at a number of different factors, U.S. scientists found that a child’s BMI has some connection to the time a mother spends working. The study suggests that a child’s weight may depend on how much their mothers were away at work during their children’s lifetimes. The scientists found that children’s BMI, the weight to height ratio used to measure if a person is overweight or obese, rose the more years their mothers worked while raising kids. The longer a mother is employed, the more likely her children are to be overweight or obese, suggests the study.
Soaring rate of working moms, childhood obesity
The report, published in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development, shows that over the past 35 years, the percentage of U.S. mothers who work outside home while raising kids has jumped from less than 50 percent to more than 70 percent. Likewise, the childhood obesity rate has more than tripled during the same time frame. The obesity rate in children is now close to 17 percent.
To reach their findings, researchers from American University in Washington, Cornell University in New York State, and the University of Chicago studied body mass index (BMI) data from 990 children in grades 3, 5, and 6 who lived in cities across the country, FOX News reports. The research team found that the total number of years that mothers worked away from home had a cumulative influence on their children’s rising BMI. “Every period of time (averaging 5.3 months) a mother was employed was associated with an increase in her child’s BMI of 10 percent of a standard deviation,” AFP quoted the study authors as reporting in the Journal. “For a child of average height, this is equivalent to a gain in weight of nearly one pound (half a kilogram) every five months above and beyond what would typically be gained as a child ages.” The findings were strongest among children in 6th grade. These children with working mothers were found to be six times more likely than those with stay-at-home moms to be overweight. “It is not the mother’s employment, but the environment,” said the lead author of the study, Taryn Morrissey, Ph.D., an assistant professor of public administration and policy at American University in Washington, D.C., as reported by The Huffington Post.
Improved access to healthy foods is required
The research authors said their study confirms that efforts need to be made to expand the affordability and convenience of healthy foods in order to curb the childhood obesity. “About a fifth of American children are considered obese, and childhood obesity has been associated with health, behavior, and academic problems in adolescence and adulthood,” FOX News quoted Morrissey as saying. “Community- and school-based programs offer promise for promoting healthy weight by providing information to children and their families about nutrition and exercise, as well as how to make quick, healthy meals,” she said.
For more information check out obesity in toddlers