A recent study conducted by researchers at the University College London links changes in the prevalence of working mothers to an increase in obesity rates in children and adolescents. The study analyzed data from over 8,500 adults in Britain who were born in 1958. It compared obesity rates and working parent data to the same factors in the children born of these adults.
An analysis of the two generations showed that childhood obesity rates increased by 50 percent. The study, published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, also found that between the two generations, the likelihood of both parents working greatly increased in the second generation.
Childhood obesity rates in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, and the United States are increasing at an alarming rate. In the US, the childhood obesity rates have tripled for adolescents and doubled for younger children in the past three decades. Along with this increase in obesity rates, a corresponding increase in childhood diseases has increased. An increased risk of asthma, cancer, heart disease and other ailments is linked to the prevalence of childhood obesity.
An additional finding of the study was that children of obese parents are up to six times more likely to be obese than children of parents whose body mass index is in the normal range. Although the researchers did not factor in eating and exercise habits, they theorize that the increase in working mothers has changed eating habits. The prevalence of empty calorie foods and snacks and the increase in sedentary activities may be partially responsible for the increase in obesity rates.
Medical professionals and researchers are fearful that this generation may have shorter life spans than their parents’ generation due to the increase in chronic disease associated with obesity.