Bad News for Working Moms: Your Kids Are More Likely to Be Large

job interview Attention all working moms: The more years you work, the fatter your child is likely to become, according to a new study that links childhood obesity with mothers who have jobs outside the home.

Search Job Openings

In Partnership With

This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but with childhood obesity more than tripling over the last 30 years, researchers have been trying to find causes and correlations. Prior research has linked maternal employment to children's body mass index (BMI), which measures weight as compared to height.

But a new study by an American University professor in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development has found that children's BMI increased the more years their mothers worked.

Taryn W. Morrissey, assistant professor in public administration and policy, led the study with colleagues from Cornell University and the University of Chicago. They took a look at 990 children in grades three, five, and six, living in 10 cities across the United States. Especially for the fifth- and sixth-graders, the researchers found that the total number of years mothers were employed had a cumulative effect on their children's BMI. Over time, this can lead to an increased chance of children -- and eventually the adults they become -- being overweight or obese.

The reasons for this are not readily apparent, but researchers speculate that working parents have less time for grocery shopping and meal preparation, and therefore resort more to fast foods and prepared foods which are often higher in fats, carbohydrates, and calories.

"About a fifth of American children are considered obese, and childhood obesity has been associated with health, behavior, and academic problems in adolescence and adulthood," Morrissey told a reporter from American University. "Community and school-based programs offer promise for promoting healthy weight by providing information to children and their families about nutrition and exercise, as well as how to make quick, healthy meals."

Next: Top Companies Hiring This Week

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell


Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.  Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, and many other media outlets.  Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:
Carol A. Dudeck

I'm so fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom now for nearly 15 years. I get compliments all the time at our school about how WELL adjusted both my kids are and I feel proud. I realize that NOT all mothers have this luxury, financially but many working moms that we see their kids are so OVERWEIGHT and often do very POORLY in class. I truly believe that if a parent can possibly swing it FINANCIALLY they really should commit to staying home and looking after their OWN children. We see more fathers now staying at home as mom makes the better income and its WONDERFUL.

December 19 2013 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The fallout from the avalanche of women manipulated into the workforce by the1960's feminist rant about the indignities suffered by the poor stay at home mom is apparent everywhere.

March 24 2011 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The fallout from the avalanche of women manipulated into the workforce by the1960's feminist rant about the indignities suffered by the poor stay at home mom is apparent everywhere.

March 24 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I believe this is a crock of crap!!!! If parents would just stop buying all the processed food and get in the kitchen for a minute and COOK kids wouldn't be so dang gone big. I work 8:30-5:30 M-F but my kids dont eat at Mickey D's everyday. I don't buy precooked prebreaded food. I COOK!!!! Stop being so dang lazy America!!! UGH!!!!!

February 08 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

way to make working Moms feel even more guilty :( So in other words, if you can afford to stay home, you are a better parent? Sigh...

February 08 2011 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was raised by a single mother, a single father and a grandmother- all at different times in my childhood. I can tell you one major change from my childhood that differs from raising my children today- My kids do not go outside and "play" enough. It is only because the world is not a safe place anymore. Kids cannot go outside without someone watching them.
and the obvious, it is cheaper to eat unhealthy.
But I beleive my family chooses a healthy lifestyle. It has nothing to do with me working. I start them off with a healthy breakfast....pack a healthy lunch (school lunches are horrible tasting and are the farthest thing from nutritious)- we also eat a healthy dinner together. We eat together!! Whether you work full time or not, there are some things that you should not compromise on.

February 08 2011 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a crock of $h!t!

February 08 2011 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Start by taking away the dam video games and computers. Im a baby boomer; we didnt have those things growing up. We had to go outside and play basketball; baseball etc. We didnt sit around and become couch potatos like most kids today are. There werent that many overweight kids when I was growing up. Maybe there were 1 or 2; but not half the class like todays kids are. Its no secret; daily physical activity; burns off calories; duh!!

February 08 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the laugh!

February 08 2011 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh this kind of crap just burns me up!!!! :( Bad news for working Moms, huh??? Does it ever occur to ANYONE that other people in the family cook besides DEAR OLD MOM?? I understand the logic behind what the article is saying, and later in the article it does mention working PARENTS. But why must "bad news" of this sort always be addressed to Moms??? And yes, I AM a working Mom married to a former stay-at-home Dad who just recently rejoined the work force. In our home, Dad is the cook and we have three scrawny kids! Perhaps I should give DAD the bad news that our children will likely become obese now!

February 08 2011 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Jobs

In Partnership With

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

July 20 - July 27

Looking for work? See what companies added new openings this week.


Check out our new Map Search

Locate your next job using the new AOL Jobs Map Search!

Pin down your next great opportunity today.