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Moms of the 21st Century Need Fewer Calories

momIn a world seemingly dominated by moms forever hitting the gym or talking about the latest fitness craze (Zumba, Yoga, CrossFit blah blah blah) it may surprise you to learn that over the last fifty years moms have become significantly less active.

But, as Yahoo Shine reports, according to a new study published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, mothers today aren’t as active as their 1965 counterparts, which means they require about 1,200-1,500 fewer calories per week to maintain a healthy weight.

Say wha? But it’s true. All that crazy running around you thought you were doing apparently doesn’t compare to the stereotypical stay-at-home housewife in the sixties who had never heard of spinning classes or hot yoga and left the marathon running mostly to the men.

The explanation? We’ve got a lot more passive entertainment. For instance, what are you doing right now? Surfing the Internet. And there are eighty billion channels on the TV to suck up your attention if the Internet bores you. Yahoo also notes that there was a lot more housework back then although I’m not sure I agree with that sentiment. What’s so different about housework? Yeah, moms from the sixties likely spent more time cooking, but how active is cooking, really? And hey! Loading a dishwasher is arguably more active than standing at a sink scrubbing dishes. Nonetheless, the study’s authors say the difference in calories consumed versus calories burned is contributing to the obesity epidemic in so many women and children of today.

“With each passing generation, mothers have become increasingly physically inactive, sedentary, and obese, thereby potentially predisposing children to an increased risk of inactivity, adiposity, and chronic non-communicable diseases,” the studies lead author, Edward Archer of the University of South Carolina, said in a release.

Here’s the breakdown of the study according to Yahoo:

The researchers looked at activity logs gathered for over 45 years from 50,000 daily diaries compiled by the American Heritage Time Use Study. They found that women with kids under 5 reported a decline in physical activity (defined as childcare, cleaning, cooking, and other housework, as well as sports and exercise) from 44 hours per week in 1965 to less than 30 hours per week in 2010 — more than two hours per day. This means that women in 1965 could eat about 225 calories per day more, or the equivalent of two eggs and a piece of toast, without gaining weight. Mothers with older children reported a decline in activity of about 11 hours a week, which comes out to 177 calories per day. In addition to being less active, mothers reported an increase in sedentary behavior — such as watching television, looking at the computer, and driving. Moms of young children increased their sedentary behavior from 18 to 25 hours per week, and moms of older children from 17 to 23 hours.

The conclusion, according to Archer: moms need to get physical again. “I’m not saying that women should do more housework, but they need to add physical activity back into the day…Why did the obesity epidemic come about as it did? We’ve engineered physical activity out of all domains of our lives.”

It’s true. Most of us spend hours and hours of our day staring at some kind of monitor or screen. The average American watches about four hours of TV a day. And that’s just TV! In fact, Archer says the the second greatest factor for having an obese mom is that she has a TV in her bedroom.

As I sit here in my bedroom staring into my computer monitor typing this, my TV is on in the background. I absolutely need to cut down on screen time be it TV, computer or iPhone. It’s so easy to get sucked into an Internet rabbit hole when I could’ve spent the same amount of time taking a walk around the neighborhood.

What do you think? Do you blame less housework, more screen time, or both, for the obese epidemic sweeping the nation?

Image: Flickr.com/Nette1274

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