Hands-off parenting can cause childhood obesity

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – When parents are too busy for family time, children’s health might suffer.

Research shows that working mothers are more likely to have obese kids, according to a study by Cornell University.

Moms trying to balance work and family life tend to spend less time at home, which means less play time. They also don’t shop regularly at grocery stores, and fathers don’t appear to be picking up the slack.

“Roughly about 15 percent of the decrease in time associated with mothers working is off-set by increases in time in those activities by the husband,” says the lead author of the study John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management and of economics in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology. “Even the men who were staying home when the women work aren’t covering all these activities – not even half of it.”

Plus, time-crunched parents are more likely to buy prepared and pre-packaged food rather than cooking fresh meals.

Cawley says schools should be playing a greater role.

“Schools need to do a better job keeping our kids physically active and only having nutritious options in the schools, he says.

Cawley says parents can make smarter choices by paying more attention to calorie counts both at the store and at restaurants.

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