Are working mothers responsible for overweight kids?


    It’s not new news that kids in this country are getting fatter. There’s an interesting new theory about why it’s happening.

    Could working mothers be responsible for kids gaining too much weight?

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    Working 9-5 was a movie and a mantra in the 1980s as American women entered the workforce en masse. That’s about the same time American kids started packing on the pounds.

    Chicago Public Health Commissioner Terry Mason said, “When we saw that start to happen we could track childhood obesity. There’s a direct correlation.”

    So did working women lead to chubbier children? Sixteen percent of children six and older are overweight. That’s triple the number from 1980.

    Lew Fuller with the Obesity Society said, “We don’t have the traditional approach of a woman being at home cooking dinner, taking care of the kids, getting the kids outside, getting the kids exercised.”

    Families now eat out an average of four times a week — a big jump from 30 years ago.

    One mother said, “Being a working mom I do find myself taking my kids out to McDonald’s and fast food a lot because when I get back after the commute I’m just too tired to fix those meals.”

    Another mother said, “I think blaming women for childhood obesity is absolutely ridiculous.”

    Others say obesity may be caused by a variety of factors.

    Kathryn Thomas with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said, “At its very simplest, our kids are taking in a lot more calories than they are burning off. There are a lot of reasons for that. It’s not just because they aren’t eating as many dinners at home.”

    Regardless of cause there are steps to help kids stay leaner.

    “We need to get physical education back into schools,” Thomas said. “We need to get the junk food out of schools, we need to make communities safer for kids to walk and bike and play. It’s harder to do that than it is to say, Mom and dad you’re not doing the right thing. I think mom and dad are doing the best they can.”