Sunday, March 10, 2019

Working Mothers and Childhood Obesity

I know that this will come as a shock. The news comes to us from once-Great Britain. In olden days Britain ruled the waves. It was surely among the most successful nations and cultures in world history.

Today, Britain is known for grooming gangs, gangs that the local constabulary ignores because they are afraid of being called racist. It is also known for daily stabbings, especially on the streets of London. In gun-free Britain, young people routinely stab each other, often to death. The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has declared that he has done all he can do… thus confirming my suspicion that he is the weakest human being ever to hold executive office. As for the rest of the law enforcement community, it has been led by women… though, of course, this has nothing to do with the crime wave. And then there is Prime Minister Theresa May, who has exactly one job to do, that is to navigate the Brexit process. At that she has failed, and has refused to accept ignominious failure and do the right thing, which would be, to resign.

As if that were not enough, a new study from the University College in London has just discovered a correlation between childhood obesity and working mothers. If a mother is working her child is more likely to be more sedentary and to overeat. As it happens the researchers suggest that it’s more causation than correlation, but I prefer to leave it to your good judgment to decide whether it’s causal or just a random correlation:

The Daily Mail has the report—one suspects that American media outlets will not be jumping all over it:

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, from University College London, which conducted the research of almost 20,000 families, told The Sunday Times: ‘We find that children whose mothers work are more likely to have increased sedentary behaviour and poorer dietary habits.’

While the researchers said their findings were most pronounced for single mothers working full-time, they also related to working mothers who have partners. The project also found that children are fatter regardless of whether their mother works full- or part-time.

The study describes obesity as ‘the most common chronic disease of childhood and likely to persist into adulthood with far-reaching effects’.

It found that the dramatic increase in the numbers of obese children and teenagers over the past four decades had been accompanied by a similarly sharp rise in the employment of mothers.

In the UK, the proportion of working mothers with children under the age of five rose from 31 per cent in 1980 to 58 per cent in 2008.

The children of single mothers working full-time were almost 25 per cent more likely to be overweight than the offspring of stay- at-home mothers, the research team found.

Strangely, or, not so strangely, a father’s employment circumstances did not correlate with childhood obesity. 

One admires the researchers’ ability to maintain a politically correct attitude. Their solution to the problem: to make fathers spend more time home caring for children, thus to spend less time at work providing for the family.

Previous studies have suggested working mothers spend less time on housework, meal preparation and child supervision.

The UCL researchers could not find ‘any significant effect’ of a father’s job on his children’s weight.

The study makes clear that the burden of childcare continues to fall mainly on mothers.

To improve the situation, it suggests taking a ‘fundamental step’ to involve fathers as ‘active players’ in promoting their children’s wellbeing.

The paper adds: ‘Programmes encouraging healthy behaviours among children could be better tailored to bring both parents on board.’ 

And if the father who spends more time changing diapers and pureeing carrots loses the respect of his work team, if he loses promotions, raises and bonuses… then what?


Anonymous said...

Of course, the past few decades of telling everyone they're beautiful just as they are didn't help.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to find the study itself so my obvious objection may be moot but...
in the US (and I'll guess, the UK) family obesity is inversely correlated with income and educational attainment.

It seems like an obvious thing to control for but maybe all they have found is that lower income families where mom has no partner or is working from financial necessity tend to be heavier.

Or maybe they did control for it but the headline was irresistible.

Tom Maguire

Anonymous said...

OK, a link to the study. Dated last Dec 15, so why it is in the news today is currently a mystery.

Income and maternal education are among the included variables.

Tom Maguire

Sam L. said...

"The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has declared that he has done all he can do… thus confirming my suspicion that he is the weakest human being ever to hold executive office." Can you say "He's part of the problem because he will do nothing to stop or correct the problem", boys and girls? Yes, I KNEW you could.

OK, so my comment has nothing to do with obesity. But, could it be that women are just grabbing the easiest things they can to get home more quickly to avoid those "immigrant" gangs?

Cheryl said...

The reason being - working mothers means an increase in stress-levels for both mother and child. Which translates into higher levels of cortisol.

I was a stay at home mother till my son was 2 and he was skinny. After I started work he began putting on weight and was a tad bit tubby for most of his childhood. Then I took a break from work due to various reasons and within a few months, my son's weight began reducing. Now he is back to being skinny.

A typical morning of a working mother is getting ready for work while getting the kids ready for school it is a mad rush, screaming/shouting. By the time mom returns from work even if she is not lazy, it takes time to cook so a packet of chips/ chocolate is to go remedy. Plus there are the baby-sitter rules, children are expected to sit in one place not make a racket in general they have to be immobile which only adds to them gaining weight.

(Given the choice I would have opted to be a stay-at- home mom but unfortunately, circumstances beyond my control forced me to get back to work.)