Children of working mums are less active and more likely to eat unhealthy food, according to research by the Institute of Child Health.
The study of more than 12,500 5-year-olds found that those with mums who went to work were more likely to be driven to school, watch more than two hours of TV a day and have sweetened drinks between meals. Children with mums who worked full-time also appeared to eat less fruit and vegetables. However, this link wasn’t true for children whose mums only worked part-time.
“For many families the only parent or both parents will be working,” says Professor Catherine Law who led the study. “Time constraints may limit parents’ capacity to provide their own children with healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.”
The findings remained similar even across different family incomes.
Almost 60% of mums with children under 5 work in Britain and Professor Law stresses that the study isn’t suggesting they should stop. “Our results do not imply mothers should not work, rather they highlight the need for policies and programmes to help support parents,” she said.
Professor Law recommended that nurseries and childminders bridge the gap to make sure children get enough exercise and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said, “Our Change4Life movement is already helping over 370,000 families eat well, move more and live longer by helping to understand the harm that fat and added sugar can cause to children’s health, and offering them simple yet effective ways to make changes to their diet and increase their activity levels.”
Are you a working mum? Let us know if you think this study rings true for you, or if you disagree…