Are working mothers making their children fat?


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    By: Dawn Juntilla

    A recent study suggests that children with mothers who work outside the home are more likely to be obese.  Specifically, the length of a mother's employment is associated with an increase in her child's body mass index, according to research published in the journal Child Development.

    Have the researchers completely lost their minds? Or, are they trying to use shock value to get the general American public’s attention? Well, they certainly have mine!

    I will admit to having a bias. I have been working at least part time for most of my children’s lives.    And, while I have not worked as a scientific researcher, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person.  I know that whether or not a mother works cannot possibly be contributing to a child’s obesity.  What contributes to a child’s obesity is simple - lack of activity, poor nutrition and, to some degree, genetics. 

    Let’s focus on what we can control. Are researchers honestly trying to tell me that because I work my kids are automatically less active or are eating less nutritiously?  I simply WILL NOT accept it.  Whether your children are active and whether your children eat a nutritious diet are dependent upon small and large choices we make every day about how they spend their time and what they put in their mouths.
    Do I believe that working mothers may have more to balance and therefore could choose to take short cuts? Sure. What I refuse to believe is that, on the whole, working mothers cannot make good decisions for their children, even if it takes slightly more effort.

    I also strongly suspect there is a correlation between mothers that work and other high risk factors such as low income. If I were a betting woman, I would put money on the fact that excluding these other high risk factors, a mother’s work outside the home does not negatively affect a child’s weight in any significant way.

    Researchers, please don’t insult my intelligence, or challenge my ability to successfully balance my career and the health of my children.

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