Working women are less likely to have obese children – but only if they are in the office for under 24 hours a week, new research suggests.
Yet, youngsters aged between three and four years old are more at-risk of obesity if their mothers work for more than 35 hours a week, a study found.
Those aged between eight and 14 are less likely to carry excess weight if their mothers work 35-to-40 hours a week, the research adds.
It is unclear why obesity risk varies according to differences in children’s ages and their mother’s working hours, however, the researchers believe seeing less of their parents may be detrimental for some, while others could benefit from the financial and ‘psychological’ advantages.
The World Health Organization estimates 42 million children around the world are overweight or obese, putting them at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Working women are less likely to have obese children, but it depends on their hours
WATER CONTAINING ‘GOOD’ BACTERIA MAY COMBAT CHILDHOOD OBESITY
A bottle of water a day that boosts youngsters’ ‘good’ bacteria may combat childhood obesity, research revealed in June.
Water containing a prebiotic supplement should make obese children a healthy weight after just one year, a study found.
This is compared to a 17.6lb (8kg) weight gain among children receiving a placebo, the research adds.
Study author Professor Raylene Reimer from the University of Calgary, said: ‘Powdered fiber, mixed in a water bottle, taken once a day is all we asked the children to change, and we got, what we consider, some pretty exciting results – it has been fantastic.’
Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients, such as fiber, that act as fertilizers to stimulate the growth of bugs in the digestive tract.
Probiotics specifically introduce new bacteria into the gut.
Mothers’ working hours influence children’s obesity rates
Researchers from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center found children aged between three and four years old are less likely to be overweight or obese when their mothers work between one and 24 hours a week.
Yet their risk is higher when their mothers work more than 35 hours.
Eight-to-14 year olds are less likely to be overweight when their mothers work between 35 and 40 hours a week.
Fathers also play a role, with those working under 45 hours a week being less likely to have an overweight or obese child.
Salaries also influence youngsters’ obesity risk, with those from low-to-medium income families generally being heavier.
The findings contradict previous studies that have linked mothers’ long working hours to children carrying excess weight due to them having less time to prepare food and therefore greater reliance on processed meals.
‘Mothers’ employment brings to families both gains and losses’
Dr Li said: ‘We propose that mothers’ employment brings to families both gains and losses. The losses largely centre on mothers’ time, and the gains come from other resources, both material and psychological.
‘Thus, rather than work hours creating a linear risk for child overweight, there may be tipping points in the maternal work hour-child weight relationship.
‘Working at least some hours may be beneficial, depending on child developmental needs, and other family resources, such as income.
‘Child overweight and obesity rates continue to increase especially among the very young – 42 million young children were estimated to be overweight and obese globally in 2013.
She said: ‘We show that maternal employment up to a certain threshold seems beneficial for child health particularly in low-medium income families.
‘Our findings call for further research that will examine the ways in which employment enables lower income mothers to promote child health or constrains their ability to do so and factors that hinder or limit their participation in the labour force.’