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Long Maternal Working Hours Linked to Children’s BMI

Last Updated: February 21, 2011.

An increase in the total time that a mother is employed is associated with an increase in her child's body mass index, according to a study published in the January/February issue of Child Development.

MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- An increase in the total time that a mother is employed is associated with an increase in her child's body mass index (BMI), according to a study published in the January/February issue of Child Development.

Taryn W. Morrissey, Ph.D., from the American University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues reviewed data on 990 school-age children from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to find any links between maternal work schedules and children's BMIs.

The researchers found that an increase in the total time that a mother works is linked to an increase in her child's BMI. The association between maternal employment and children's weight was found to be much stronger for children in sixth grade compared to younger children. Maternal characteristics, home characteristics and children's time use did not have an effect on these associations. There is no evidence to suggest a link between a non-standard work schedule, such as working nights or weekends, and children's BMI.

"We find that maternal employment has a cumulative influence on childrens BMI which, over time, could lead to an increase in the likelihood that a child is overweight or obese. We also find evidence that, among older children in particular, maternal employment status is linked to an increased likelihood of being overweight," the authors write.

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