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Children of working mothers are telly tubbies: Obesity concerns for latchkey kids


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Children of working mothers are telly tubbies: Obesity concerns for latchkey kids



By Fiona Macrae

Last updated at 9:59 AM on 26th May 2010




article-1281444-09C11B45000005DC-782_233x335.jpg Telly tubbies: Children of working mothers are more likely to be overweight, research has found


The children of working mothers are more likely to be overweight than their peers, research shows.

Latchkey kids have more freedom to eat sugary snacks and spend solitary afternoons slumped in front of the TV.

Long hours can leave women short of time to prepare healthy family meals, so their children will have TV dinners more often.


And mothers who have to get to work are also more likely to drive their children to school rather than walk with them.

Obesity experts said more needs to be done to help working women juggle the demands of home and office.

The finding comes from a study of two generations of British children and their parents.

More than 8,500 seven-year-olds were weighed and measured in 1965.

Some of their children went through the same process in the Nineties.

In 1965, just 8 per cent of the girls and 12 per cent of the boys studied were overweight or obese. By 1991, the figures were 50 per cent higher.

Analysing the figures, the researchers from University College London found a clear link with women's working habits.


A Sixties child whose mother worked full time was up to 28 per cent more likely to have a weight problem than one whose mother was a housewife.








Thirty years later, the increased risk had risen to 48 per cent - probably because of the increased availability of fast foods, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.


The number of working mothers rose by more than 30 per cent over the same period.

The researchers said: 'In the light of the substantial growth in female employment observed in recent years and the increasing tendency for women to return to work after childbirth, such increases may affect the prevalence of childhood obesity.'

The study showed that children of overweight parents are also likely to be overweight.

Researcher Dr Leah Li warned the consequences could affect the nation's health for years, adding: 'The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children aged two to ten increased from 22.7 per cent to 27.7 per cent in England between 1995 and 2004.

'The high prevalence of child obesity is likely to result in further increases in adult obesity and associated health consequences.

Public policies aimed at supporting working mothers and less advantaged families may help reverse these trends.'

Tam Fry, of the Child Growth Foundation, called for fast food chains to display calorie counts on menus and for children and parents to be taught healthy eating.

He added: 'Mothers are not around a lot and children go to the corner shop and buy all sorts of stuff and get fatter and fatter.

'Forty years ago, kids had playing fields to play on, parks to run around, there was no problem with traffic so they used to go out on the street to play. But that is a thing of the past.'

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