Children's chances of becoming overweight rise the longer their mothers work outside the home, researchers said Friday.
Weight problems among children have soared in the past three decades, as more women have joined the workforce. A consortium of researchers led by Taryn W. Morrissey of American University examined the relationship between kids' weight and mothers' work schedules and what factors about a woman's work might contribute to child weight gain.
They used data from 990 school-aged children in the Study of Early child Care and Youth Development. The researchers had speculated that women who work non-traditional hours, such as evening shifts and weekends, might have children with a higher risk of weight gain. However, the mothers' work schedules did not seem to make a difference.
But a mother's working outside the home did matter. The longer the woman worked, the higher the likelihood that her child would become overweight. For example, for a child of average height, the increase in body mass index is equivalent to a gain in weight of nearly one pound for every five months the mother was working beyond what would typically be gained as a child ages.