I came across a British study this week that added slightly to my already huge pile of working-mom guilt. The University of College London study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed 8,500 adults since their birth in 1958 and the children of these adults. Researchers found that the children, all of whom were between the ages of 4 and 9 when they participated, were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than their parents were at the same age.
Looking to explain the reasons why, and to put forth a theory on the rise of childhood obesity in general, one of the factors the researchers picked up on was that more of the overweight and obese children had mothers who worked full time (another key factor was having a parent who was obese).
One thought was moms who work full time probably have or prepare fewer family meals during the week, which would mean they have less control over what is on their child’s plate (if it’s a babysitter or dad making meals) or they are relying on fast-food and convenience meals in a rush to get something on the table.
Of course, we all know there are a number of other factors attributed to the rise in overweight and obese kids. They include food ads aimed at kids, the availability of high-fat foods in school cafeterias and vending machines, too many hours spent in front of TV screens and computers resulting in less physical activity for kids. And the researchers themselves stated that the working mom connection to this epidemic is a minor one‘so I’m not going to make myself crazy over it. But I did see the study as a nudge to reevaluate my family’s meals. I’ll be spending some time in the kitchen this weekend making a big batch of homemade lasagna (my specialty, according to my family) so my kids can eat it during the week’and I’ll even get leftovers for my lunch.
What does your family do to make healthy eating a priority when you’re caught in a time crunch?