Over the past 35 years, the percentage of U.S. mothers who hold down a job while raising kids have soared from less than 50% to more than 70%. During this same time frame, the childhood obesity rate-which is now close to 17%- has more than tripled. Many researchers are claiming that there’s a direct connection between these two figures. The journal of Childhood Development just published a study, which showed that the longer a mother is employed, the more likely her children are to be overweight or obese. The study demonstrated that for each additional five-month period that his or her mother is employed, a child of average height could be expected to gain 1 extra pound over and above normal growth. In addition, six graders with working mothers were found to be six times more likely than those with stay-at-home moms to be overweight.
Another study published in Business Week supports this same concept, finding that was a correlation between the number of hours a women works outside the home and the BMI of her children. This research found that for a third grader of average height, the increase in BMI was equivalent to an extra one and a half to two extra pounds over what that child would normally gain in a year.
With studies like these being done, the idea that American kids are getting fat because women work outside the home now, could seem convincing. But hold on. These are correlative studies, not experimental research. The problem with these conclusions is that there may be several other things occurring simultaneously “causing” or contributing to this dietary epidemic.
Obviously, if women are spending long hours at work, as many do, home cooked meals are less of an option. In our nation it has become far too common for the wife to pop something pre packaged into the oven at night or pick up a pizza on her way home in order to accommodate her family with a meal that is quick and tasty.
The issue is that convenience foods have become a way of life for Americans. The ability to buy ready-made food is so much the norm that cooking for yourself seems like overkill, like you’re trying to win the best mom ever trophy. When push comes to shove, and it often does, most moms say the heck with it! Bring on the pizza. But that’s when the real problem kicks in, as processed foods are loaded with MSG, HFCS, Aspartame and Acesulfame, all of which are neurotoxins and all of which contribute to weight gain or disturbed eating. It doesn’t matter if the wife had the WHOLE DAY to cook a meal anymore because she wouldn’t anyway. Not when she can just run down the street to KFC and have a bucket of chicken in less than 10 minutes.
Thus it is the additives in these convenience foods that are directly responsible for why our nation and our children have become so fat. The percentage of mothers working full time may have gone up over the past 35 years, but so has the amount of MSG and high fructose corn syrup being poured into the foods we buy. They are found in just about all prepackaged, frozen and fast foods. They keep our stomachs saying “yum!” and “more,” and our blood sugar levels on a constant rollercoaster. Working mothers who have jobs don’t directly cause weight problems in their children. Reliance on and trust in processed foods containing dangerous addictive additives should be getting blamed. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know they’re there!
Verropoulou G, Joshi H. Mothers’ Employment and Child Development. London, UK: Center for Longitudinal Development. 2006.
Business Week (online version) – WHAT! WORKING MOTHERS = FAT KIDS??? (http://www.businessweek.com/careers/workingparents/blog/archives/2007/05/who_knew_seems.html)
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