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Working Moms Have Fatter Kids

Working mothers are getting it from all sides this week.  First, there’s a new book called “How Not to F*** Them Up” in which the author, a psychologist, claims that mothers who have a choice should never choose to work outside the home when their children are young.  Leaving little kids in the care of someone other than mom or dad, he says, will result in life-long insecurity issues for that child.

Then there’s a scientific study out of the UK that blames the growing number of obese children on working mothers.  The study, in which researchers compared the height and weight of children in 1965 to those in 1991, claims that as more mothers entered the workplace during those years, more children got fat.

The University College London researchers blame this phenomenon on several factors related to mom’s employment.  First, those whose children are home alone while she’s out earning a living are more likely to be sitting in front of the television eating junk food.  Second, moms who work long hours are less likely to come home and cook a healthy dinner and instead feed their families less-healthy prepared frozen foods.   And finally, moms who have a job to get to every morning are more likely to drive their kids to school, denying them the health benefits of walking.

I am sure all of those things do happen in some families whether mom goes to work or not.  In fact, I know plenty of homes where the kitchens are stocked with junk food and the kids spend hours stuffing their faces in front of the television while mom is in the very next room doing the exact same thing.

But what really bugs me about this study and others like it is the complete absence of any mention of dad.  Why is he never considered when talking about what’s wrong with the kids?  Can’t he go grocery shopping and cook dinner?  Can’t he walk the kids to school?

Maybe, in addition to public policy changes and better food labeling and healthier school lunches, we should be urging dads to get with the program and shoulder their part of the responsibility of raising healthy children.

Image: Niklas Hellerstedt/Flickr

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